Pakistan suspends execution of death penalty during Ramadan

Islamabad, (IANS) Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered suspension of executions of death penalties during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan beginning in the country on Friday, officials said on Thursday.

Sharif had lifted a six-year moratorium on the executions after the Taliban attacked an army-run school and killed nearly 150 children, their teachers and staff members in Peshawar in last December.

The government had earlier said that death sentences will be implemented in terrorism-related cases; however, it was later expanded to the pending criminal cases.

“Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has directed that execution of death sentences scheduled during the month of Ramazan may be temporarily suspended to observe the sanctity of the holy month,” Xinhua quoted the PM office as saying in a statement.

“Directions in this regard have been issued to the ministry of interior and provincial governments for ensuring implementation,” it added.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani had also spoken to the prime minister for halting executions during the holy month of Ramazan, it said.

Officials said over 150 executions have been carried over the last six months in those pending cases where appeals by the convicts had been rejected by the Supreme Court and the president.

The UN, EU and international rights groups had opposed the death penalties in Pakistan and called for resumption of the moratorium. The government had, however, defended its decision and rejected all pressure.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari had declared moratorium on death penalties during his government in 2008.

Pakistan began its de facto moratorium on civilian executions in 2008, but hanging remains on the statute books and judges continue to pass death sentences.

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