GIVEN the strong pro-death penalty lobby in Pakistan, it has been difficult for the country to join the ranks of the majority around the world where this most ultimate of punishments has either been removed from the law books or is not administered. Nevertheless, during the tenure of the current government, a middle ground had been found and there was a de facto moratorium on executions. Since the PPP came to power in 2008, Pakistan has been one of 36 countries that do not implement the death penalty. Conversely, it is also one of the countries with the highest number of prisoners on death row — according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the figure is over 8,000, while prison records show that it is at least 7,164. But the moratorium came to an end on Thursday as a soldier, sentenced to death for having killed a superior officer four years ago, was hanged early Thursday morning in Mianwali Jail. His mercy petition had been rejected by the president last December.

Human rights agencies refer to the death penalty as the ultimate in cruel, degrading and inhumane punishments. They see it as violating the right to life as enunciated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The global campaign to abolish it spans decades and two-thirds of all countries have done just this — either by law or in practice. Pakistan, too, needs to follow suit. Right to life takes on added significance here. The prosecution process and investigation methodologies are so flawed in most cases, it is difficult to ascertain whether the accused is indeed guilty of murder beyond any shadow of doubt. There were some indications that the government wanted to take up the issue. Early this month, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that the government was planning to introduce in parliament a bill converting the death penalty to life imprisonment. Since then, though, nothing has been heard on the subject. That bill needs to see the light of day at the earliest. Meanwhile, the de facto moratorium on executions should be restored. The world needs to see capital punishment being abolished.

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Comments (6)

Aj
November 16, 2012 7:54 pm
i completely disagree. Firstly, the above mentioned individual didn't kill an officer but a lower rank Sepoy. Whether he killed an officer or a Sepoy is not a point . The point is how it is stated that death penalty is "degrading and inhumane punishments" whereas the person hanged has already committed an inhumane act of taking a life. till the time such punishments are not set in government cannot have a check on honor killings and all that.
Agha Ata
November 16, 2012 1:14 pm
Talking of human rights agencies who refer to the death penalty as the ultimate in cruel, sounds like a joke when we are still killing in hundreds, if not in thousands, in wars, around the whole world everyday.
Amir Bangash
November 16, 2012 3:20 pm
The death punishment can not be abolished in a country like Pakistan where literacy rate is too low and killing of others and violence is a routine matter. If Pakistan follows the western style of human rights, the inhuman will play havoc with the lives of other humans.
DharmendraGoel
November 16, 2012 9:04 am
yes like ahumanistliberalI am all toowilling for not denyoing life even to those who are convicted of blasphemous vile violence or similar deeds. However, there are hyenas in human form who take the honour andlife of innocent Girls still in teens who seem tobe a dark spot on Manjind. One cannot be sure if a ny purpose of Charity could redeem them even when they are actually confined for life long internhood behind A steel Cage. can one hope they may in fullness of years ,be repentant or feel the pricks of their inner Sane voice of Morality.? one hardly could be sure either way...D. Goel
Riaz Akbar
November 16, 2012 6:47 am
I agree with Mr Editor that death punishment be abolished but question arises how could crime rate be checked. The figures may be 7164 or 8000, it is no doubt high . I want to narrate one of occurrences in the time of Gen Zia's regime when 'Papoo '(a culprit ) was hanged , it was reported by police in one Lahore's police stations that they did not register any FIR forty days after his hanging. I suggest that capital punishment must stay in order to check heinous crimes without comparing rest of the world.
usman
November 17, 2012 8:35 pm
so u only save the replies which goes in ur favour shame
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