KARACHI: As Karachi’s prison authorities grease the gallows to resume executions next week, the families of two death convicts not affiliated with any banned militant outfit have challenged their black warrants.
A division bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC), comprising Justices Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Shahab Sarki, called on Wednesday the comments of the federal and provincial authorities to explain their policy on the issue by January 9. The government had announced that only ‘hardcore’ terrorists associated with militant groups will be executed.
The prisoners, Shafqat Hussain and Behram Khan, were issued death warrants by an anti-terrorism court in Karachi but their brothers, Gul Zaman and Peer Bux, challenged them. Hussain and Khan were scheduled to be hanged on January 13 and 14, respectively, but the Karachi prison authorities received a notification on Wednesday that cancelled Hussain’s execution orders.
The petitioners’ lawyer, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, told the two judges that after last month’s terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, the federal government announced its policy to execute hardcore terrorists in order to create deterrence against future acts of terrorism.
On December 16, the prime minister and the interior minister repeatedly mentioned that the de-facto moratorium has been lifted to the extent of terrorists on death row, who are associated with, or are members of banned militant or Jihadi organisations. Subsequently, the Sindh government requested the anti-terrorism courts to issue black warrants for six convicts.
The lawyer argued that Hussain and Khan’s names on the list of hardcore terrorists was an arbitrary step and appeared to be sheer negligence on the part of the respondent government.
The lawyer argued that putting the two convicts on the list of hardened terrorists is a violation of the federal government’s policy. This is also a violation of international laws, including the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the International Convention on Civilian and Political Rights of which Pakistan is a signatory, he added.
The two judges issued notices to the secretaries of the law, justice and interior ministries, the Sindh home secretary and the Karachi jail superintendent for January 9.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2015.
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