Pakistan set to resume executions

AFP-JIJI

Pakistan’s new government has ended a moratorium on executions, an official said Thursday, as Amnesty International raised concerns about a “shocking and retrograde step.”

Under the previous government led by the Pakistan People’s Party since 2008, no one except a soldier convicted by court-martial was put to death. But the Pakistan Muslim League-N swept to power in elections May 11 under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“The new government has decided to deal with all cases of execution on merit,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Umer Hameed. “There will be no general amnesty for the convicts waiting for execution.”

Amnesty estimates that Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom could now be facing execution. “The sheer number of people at risk makes the new government policy of turning back to the death penalty even more horrendous,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty’s deputy Asia-Pacific director.