Brushing aside the concerns of international rights organisations over the lifting of a 2008 moratorium on death penalty, the government has decided to go ahead with scheduled executions of the death row prisoners convicted in terrorism cases as jail authorities announced on Saturday to hang eight more convicts in the next 24 hours.
The government has issued death warrants of eight terrorists involved in attacks on former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and military installations.
Of them, four terrorists — Zubair Ahmad, Ghulam Rasool Bhatti, Rasheed Qureshi, Akhlaq Ahmad alias Roosi — were convicted by a military court for aiding and abetting the December 25, 2003 assassination attempt on Musharraf in Jhanda Chichi, Rawalpindi.
They are currently lodged in the Faisalabad Central Jail. After a final meeting with their families, they will be shifted to the district jail for execution. The mastermind of the attack, Arshad Mehrban, along with the GHQ attack convict, Aqeel, aka Doctor Usman, was hanged on Friday in the Faisalabad district jail.
After the Peshawar army school massacre, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had revoked a six-year moratorium on the death penalty in terrorism-related cases and subsequently army chief General Raheel Sharif had issued the death warrants of six terrorists, including Aqeel and Mehrban.
Meanwhile, the Kot Lakhpat jail authorities are also expected to execute four high-profile terrorists. According to sources, the authorities have received death warrants of Muhammad Zahid, who has been convicted by a military court for an attack on a military installation in Multan, and he could be hanged anytime on Saturday.
The jail administration has also finalised arrangements for the hanging of three other terrorists, namely Nadeem, Azeem and Kamran, who had been convicted by a military court for attacks on military installations in Kamra and Gujrat. Security at both prisons has also been beefed up. Police commandos, paramilitary rangers and army troops have also been deployed in and around the jails.
Convicts in Sukkur file appeal
Two death-row convicts belonging to the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) outfit, with their execution due in the Sukkur central jail on Tuesday (December 23), have challenged the death warrants issued by the anti-terrorism court.
The convicts, Attaullah and Azam, challenged the death warrants issued by the ATC Karachi before the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Saturday. Subsequently, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar of the SHC issued notices to the provincial advocate general, prosecutor general, IG Sindh and others to file their comments by December 22.
Ataullah and Azam were sentenced to death by the ATC in July 2004 for murdering Dr Raza Pirani in the Soldier Bazaar area in June 2001. The conviction was upheld by the SHC and the Supreme Court in July 2007.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2014.