Pakistan has hanged two convicted men in the first executions since 2008, officials said, after the government ended a moratorium on the death penalty in the wake of a Taliban school massacre that killed 149 people.
“Yes, two militants Aqil alias Doctor Usman and Arshad Mehmood have been hanged in Faisalabad jail,” Shuja Khanzada, home minister of central Punjab province, where the executions took place, told the AFP news agency.
A senior official from the prison department also confirmed the executions.
Islamabad’s decision to lift a ban on the death penalty in violence-related cases came as the country’s political and military leaders vowed to wipe out the homegrown attacks following Tuesday’s bloody rampage on an army-run school.
Aqil, who goes by the name Doctor Usman, was convicted for an attack on the army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009 and was arrested after being injured.
Arshad Mehmood was convicted for his involvement in a 2003 assassination attempt on former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf.
Officials said that there may be 10 more executions in the coming days: six in Punjab province and four in southern Sindh province.
Death warrants issued
“Six more convicted militants will be hanged in the coming days,” Khanzada said, referring to executions that come under his jurisdiction of Punjab province.
Shahid Hussain, superintendent of a prison in Sukkur, Sindh, told AFP that death warrants had been issued for two convicted members of the banned sectarian outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).
“The black [death] warrants of two LeJ activists Attaullah Qasim and Muhammad Azam have been issued by court for December 23,” Hussain told AFP.
An anti-terrorism court has also been asked for the execution orders for two other convicts, Behram Khan and Shafqat Hussain, Qazi Naseer Ahmed, superintendent of the central jail in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, told AFP.
The United Nations has called for Pakistan to reconsider executing terror convicts, saying that “the death penalty has no measurable deterrent effect on levels of violence” and “may even be counter-productive”.
Pakistan on Friday held rallies in the port city of Karachi in remembrance of the victims of the massacre, which occurred in the northwestern city Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Taliban fighters stormed an army-run school and started shooting indiscriminately, killing mostly uniformed school children and leaving scores injured.