Pakistani Prime Minister agrees to put all state executions on hold

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

File photo of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998.
Image: R. D. Ward.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif put all state executions on hold on Sunday, having been urged to do so by President Asif Ali Zardari.

"In due deference to the wish of the president, it has been desired that all executions of death sentences may be held in abeyance till the discussion takes place," a statement from the government said.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed on Sunday said Sharif and Zardari will meet when the President returns to Pakistan from a trip, to discuss state execution in Pakistan. More than 8000 Pakistani prisoners are on death row according to Amnesty International.

Zardari and Sharif differ in their position on capital punishment. President Zardari banned state executions in Pakistan in 2008, a policy Prime Minister Sharif reversed in June this year, when his government came into office. Sharif had planned to re-introduce executions by the end of this month.

Although Zardari as President put a temporary hold on state executions, he will step down from office in September this year. Mamnoon Hussain is to take his place as President of Pakistan, a firm supporter of Prime Minister Sharif.

The stay on state executions may conflict with the scheduled hangings of two Islamist extremists, Attaullah and Muhammad Azam, who were originally to be hung between August 20 and 22. The men are members of Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and were found guilty in 2004 of the 2001 murder of a Shia doctor named Ali Raza Peerani.