MIANWALI: A former soldier was hanged in the central jail here on Thursday. He had been sentenced to death. It was the first execution in the country in four years.
According to jail sources, gunner Muhammad Hussain Haral, 45, of Langarwala in Sahiwal had stabbed to death lance havaldar Khadim Hussain of Azad Kashmir in 2008 during his posting in Okara cantonment. It was a case of honour killing. The military court in Okara cantonment convicted him and sentenced him to death on Feb 12, 2009.
The convict filed an appeal to the army General Headquarters (GHQ) which was rejected on Dec 10, 2010. His mercy plea was rejected by the chief of army staff on Feb 14 and by the president of Pakistan in May last year.
During his imprisonment in the Sargodha District Jail, he sent a petition to the president seeking a compromise with the victim’s family but never got a reply.
Finally, the brigade commander of the Station Command Headquarters in Sargodha cantonment issued his death warrant for Nov 15.Muhammad Hussain was shifted to the Mianwali jail for execution.
He made a series of appeals to the president for staying the execution to seek a compromise but the president’s secretariat did not intervene.
During the current government the president’s secretariat has stayed the execution on each mercy petition. Nearly 30 condemned prisoners in the Mianwali jail have had their execution delayed.
The Muzaffarabad district coordination officer said on Nov 10 that the heirs of the murdered man had refused to reach a compromise with the killer or to pardon him.
On Wednesday, more than 50 relatives of Muhammad Hussain met him in the death cell.
His relatives who had come to the jail to collect his body told this correspondent that he was calm and had told them that this was an act of honour killing and he didn’t regret it. He asked them to bury him in the feet of his parents in their ancestral graveyard.
While the jail authorities expected the receipt of stay orders, they brought out the rusted gallows after more than four years.
Executioner Jan Masih was summoned from Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore and he arrived in the evening and checked the gallows.
Mianwali Jail Superintendent Qazi Muhammad Aslam said it was a tradition of the prison that a prisoner going to the gallows spent the last night of his life in the cell of Ghazi Ilm Din where he prayed.
At 5am, the superintendent went to the cell along with a military representative from Sargodha cantonment, Lt-Col Nisar Ahmed, Dr Muhammad Omer Khan and Magistrate Ilyas Rehan who read out the charges for which he had been sentenced and inquired about his will.
Muhammad Hussain was hanged at 6.30am and the body was handed over to the heirs.
Agencies add: It was the first execution in the country since November 2008. The government had enforced an unofficial moratorium on executions since then.
Zohra Yusuf, chief of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, criticised the execution. She said the government might not have had a choice because the matter involved soldiers, but she felt the moratorium should apply to both civilians and servicemen.
Punjab prisons chief Farooq Nazeer said the hanging was not a civilian execution and the government did not intervene in military cases.
The government of France also condemned the hanging and called for Pakistan to renew its moratorium on executions and work towards abolishing the death penalty.
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