Army chief has approved execution for ‘hardcore’ terrorists after end to moratorium on death penalty.
Pakistan’s Army chief on Thursday signed death warrants for six militants on death row after the government ended a moratorium on capital punishment in terror-related cases, the military said.
“COAS today signed death warrants of six hardcore terrorists [pending execution] convicted by FGCM in accordance with law,” military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa tweeted.
Security officials said the six were convicted by a military court and were awaiting execution. The announcement came hours after the government warned prison officials of a possible jailbreak in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province following the end of the moratorium. It is not clear when the executions will be carried out but a senior security official said the six would be hanged “within days.”
Two senior military officers, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to media, told Newsweek the six men whose death warrants had been signed were all involved in attacks on military installations, including one on GHQ in Rawalpindi in October 2009.
“Dr. Usman, alias Aqeel, used to be an employee of the Army Medical Unit and was the mastermind of the attack on GHQ,” they said. “He is currently in central jail of Faisalabad and was already convicted by the court,” they added. They said his execution was likely to take place later today (Friday).
Local media reported that Usman’s family had been brought to meet him at jail under stringent security, a practice usually reserved for convicts who are about to be executed.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced on Wednesday an end to the moratorium on the death penalty in terror-related cases after a Pakistani Taliban massacre at a military-run school killed 148 people, mostly children. Political and military leaders have vowed in response to wipe out the homegrown Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands of ordinary Pakistanis in recent years.
Pakistan imposed a de facto moratorium on civilian executions in 2008, though hanging remains on the statute book and judges continue to pass the death sentence. Only one person has been executed since then, a soldier convicted by a court martial and hanged in November 2012.