Days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered a stay on pending executions, opposition leaders sought an explanation from the government regarding the decision.
“Under which law has the prime minister suspended death penalties?” Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Ali Muhammad Khan demanded in the National Assembly session on Tuesday. “The stay on executions is against the Islamic laws.”
In July, the government had announced it would not extend the moratorium on executions and the interior ministry started sending execution summaries to the presidency. The moratorium – introduced under a presidential order in 2008 – was largely kept in place by the previous Pakistan Peoples Party-led government.
But in a continuation of policies, the prime minister issued stay orders on executions on Sunday. President Asif Ali Zardari had written a letter to the premier in which he wanted to set up a meeting to discuss the issue of the long-pending death sentences of hundreds of convicts once he returns from his trip abroad.
Regretting the incumbent government’s decision, Ali Khan said that the government took the decision because of international pressure. “Will the government also place a ban on offering prayers or paying Zakat if it is asked to do so by an international organisation?” he retorted.
As a letter to the premier by President Zardari – who is also the co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – had resulted in the continuation of policies, PPP MNA Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho responded to Ali Khan’s questions instead of those in the government.
She underlined the need for strengthening the investigation procedure, saying there were several loopholes in the system that resulted in the death of innocents instead of criminals. However, known terrorists and criminals should be executed, she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2013.
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