There are around 8,261 prisoners on death row in more than five dozen jails of the country, ministries of interior and law and justice and human rights officials said on Wednesday.
Around 30% of them are believed to be convicted under terrorism act by the special courts after 2003-04, they added.
They pointed out that since 2004, Pakistani authorities have executed some 235 prisoners who were on death row and interestingly only a couple of culprits were hanged after 2008 following a moratorium on capital punishment.
In August 2013, the European Union (EU) cautioned Pakistan that lifting the moratorium will be viewed as a major setback in the 28-member bloc and possibly affect Islamabad’s quest for duty-free access to European markets.
Following Pakistan Peoples Party’s decision to place a ban on capital punishment, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed the home departments of all provinces to halt executions till further orders.
Foreign office had recommended Premier Sharif to avail the Generalised Scheme of Preference (GSP) Plus status offered by the EU.
More than 6,770 prisoners are on death row in various jails of Punjab, a senior official of ministry of interior told The Express Tribune. Mercy petitions of a majority of them are pending with president of Pakistan, he revealed.
Some 991 culprits, who were also declared proclaimed offenders either by the capital police or anti-terrorism courts, were awarded death sentences but interestingly they are at large and it is strongly believed that they have joined terrorist groups, according to The National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) officials.
The NCMC officials further revealed proclaimed absconders have joined militant groups operating from Awaran in Balochistan, North Waziristan Agency, other tribal regions and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
Some 334 prisoners are on death row in the K-P, 156 in Balochistan and 25 prisoners in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), an interior ministry official said.
He, however, said it is difficult at the moment to tell how many prisoners were convicted under terrorism act. Estimated 30% prisoners are believed to be convicted under terrorism charges, he assessed.
Estimated 4,342 prisoners are facing death trial in Supreme Court, superior courts of Punjab, Sindh and K-P, according to an official of ministry of law and justice and human rights.
Pending cases at apex court: Around 2,022 murders cases, where majority of culprits are involved in terrorism, are pending with the SC, according to officials of ministry of law and justice and human rights. Most of them were already given death sentence by the anti-terrorism and criminal courts, according to them.
Pending cases at LHC: Some 595 cases of culprits who were involved in killing people are pending with various benches of the LHC, according to figures obtained from ministry of law and justice. Cases of 361 murderers, who were given death sentence by the lower courts, are pending with the LHC (Rawalpindi Bench), the data shows.
Some 234 murderers’ cases are pending with the LHC (Bahawalpur Bench), they revealed. All culprits were awarded death sentence by the anti-terrorism and criminal courts. Pending cases at SHC: They went on to reveal that more than 1,094 cases of murderers, almost half of them involved in terrorist activities, are pending with various division benches of SHC, figures obtained from ministry of law and justice show. All of them have already been awarded death sentences by the lower courts. Some 800 cases with SHC, Karachi, 87 with the Sukkur Division of SHC, 195 with Circuit Court Hyderabad and 12 cases are pending with the Circuit Court Larkana.
About Balochistan and K-P, the ministry of law and justice officials said they were still waiting for official updated figures from legal branches of Balochistan High Court (BHC) and Peshawar High Court (PHC).
However, according to the PHC’s website total 631 cases either relate to anti-terrorism or murder cases are pending – 161 anti-terrorism appeals and 470 prisoners are facing death sentence trial.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2014.