After a six-year moratorium on execution of death penalties, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday allowed capital punishment for those who have already been sentenced to death in terrorism cases.
Premier Nawaz took this step in the wake of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)’s attack at the Army Public School and College in Peshawar on Tuesday which killed 148 people most of them children.
“The prime minister has approved abolishment of the moratorium on the execution of death penalty in terrorism-related cases,” a prime minister’s office statement said.
On the instruction of PM Nawaz, the interior ministry asked home departments of all the provinces to lift the ban on executions. All home departments will write to their police chiefs to follow the premier’s instructions.
Well-placed sources in the federal government said that the prime minister on Tuesday night, during his meeting with military leadership at Peshawar Corps Headquarters, had discussed this step which they immediately approved.
They said that before leaving for Peshawar, PM Nawaz had discussed this matter with his close aides including federal ministers Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Ishaq Dar, Pervez Rashid, and Raja Zafarul Haq. They advised the premier to immediately announce the decision as this is the most appropriate time for the step.
The sources said that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar gave briefing to PM Nawaz about economic implications while Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif updated him on the possible blowback, especially in Punjab.
Dar in his briefing informed the prime minister that due to the Peshawar tragedy the whole world is standing by Pakistan, the sources said.
All missioners, foreign offices abroad particularly in Europe have been asked to interact with concerned quarters to remove their apprehensions about Pakistan’s step of lifting moratorium on executions.
Ishaq Dar, Tariq Fatemi and Sartaj Aziz would also meet diplomatic community in Pakistan to address their apprehensions about the move. The federal government has also made a committee which would meet rights activists to placate them.
Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar will again be sent to EU and Western capitals to make it sure no harm is done to Pakistan’s trade and economic interests.
The sources said that Nisar Ali Khan and Shahbaz Sharif briefed PM Nawaz about possible reactions to execution of terrorists across the country, especially those who are currently lodged in the prisons of Punjab province.
The sources said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership is much concerned about removing moratorium on execution of death penalty of those terrorists who belong to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the band outfit.
A spokesperson for President Mamnoon Hussain said due to moratorium, the presidency received 55 pardon appeals of criminals against their death penalties, adding the president had returned pardon appeals of prisoners to the interior ministry under schedule 5B of Rules of Business 1963.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2014.