Execution of six death warrants on the cards in Sindh

The image shows a noose for hanging. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: With the moratorium on the death penalty in terrorism cases lifted on Wednesday by the government, six convicts whose black warrants have been issued after the rejection of their mercy petitions by the president can be executed any time.

The six prisoners on death row in terrorism cases are militants of banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi Ataullah alias Qasim and Mohammad Azam alias Shareef; Bahram Khan, Shafqat Hussain, Jalal Morejo and Abdul Razzaq Chauhan who had been convicted of assault and murder, according to inspector general for prisons Nusrat Mangan.

In all, the IG prisons said, there were 457 inmates on death row across Sindh.

Of them, 115 convicts were in the Karachi central prison, with appeals of 25 of them pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and mercy petitions of nine of them still awaiting presidential decision, he said.

IG Mangan added that out of these cases, black warrants of six inmates on death row had been issued after the rejection of their mercy petitions by the president.

Long-time convicted prisoner on death row, Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s worker Saulat Ali Khan, alias Saulat Mirza, continued to wait for a decision on his mercy petition before the president. In May this year, his brother’s petition in the high court to move him to a Karachi prison was disposed of by the provincial authorities on the pretext that he was moved for security reasons.

Sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in May 1999 for murdering the managing director of then named Karachi Electric Supply Corporation Shahid Hamid, his driver Ashraf Brohi and guard Khan Akbar in July 1997, Saulat Mirza was moved along with four high-profile prisoners to the Machh jail, Balochistan, in April this year. The case has been pending for years without a proper decision taken on the mercy petition.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain said: “The mercy petition of prisoners on death row should not be rejected on political grounds and only those genuinely deserving the punishment must be hanged, which should begin with the terrorists.”

Another high-profile condemned prisoner, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, convicted of kidnapping and killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002, also awaited decision on his appeal.

Additional IG Ghulam Qadir Thebo said it would take some time to sort out the cases still awaiting hearing in the apex courts or decision by the president. At present, 532 mercy petitions from all over Pakistan were pending before the president. “But in the meantime the cases where mercy petitions have already been rejected can be forwarded with immediate effect, starting from tomorrow if the government so desires,” he added.

When former special secretary for prisons Ali Hassan Brohi was asked about the fate of the cases still awaiting decisions, he said: “Those sitting inside the condemned wards are usually calm because they know nothing would happen to them as the case keeps getting delayed for one reason or the other. I think it would be better, keeping the legality and presidential order in check, to tick off the terrorism cases across the board, especially of those already issued black warrants.”

After forming the government last year, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had removed the moratorium on the death penalty for a brief period in July. But soon afterwards, his government had been sent a reminder by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in a message warning of instigating a ‘bloody war’ if any of its convicted activists were executed.

Only a single execution had been carried out during the past six years. It was related to a soldier sentenced to death by a military court for murdering a colleague. He was hanged on Nov 15, 2012 since the PPP-led coalition government had placed a moratorium on executions in 2008.

The jail authorities at the Karachi central prison said the 151 condemned prisoners included a woman.

Eleven militants of the proscribed Jundullah, four LJ militants and a militant of the proscribed Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan were among the prisoners on death row.

Attaur Rahman, Shahzad Ahmed Bajwa alias Umer, Khurram Saifullah alias Anus, Shahzad Mukhtar alias Talha, Syed Adnan Shah alias Tipu, Najeebullah alias Atif, Rao Khalid alias Haris, Shoaib Siddiqui, Yaqoob Saeed Khan, Uzair Ahmed Abdullah alias Kashif and Danish Imam alias Shami of outlawed Jundullah, were sentenced to death in 2006 in a case pertaining to an attack on the convoy of a corps commander in 2004. The convoy of the then corps commander of Karachi Lt-Gen Ahsan Saleem Hayat was attacked near the Clifton Bridge in June 2004 in which 11 people, including a colonel, six soldiers and three policemen were killed while the corps commander remained unhurt.

Attaullah alias Qasim and Mohammad Azam alias Sharif of Lashkar-i-Jhangvi group were awarded capital punishment in two sectarian killing cases in 2004, while LJ militants Shahnawaz alias Shani and Mohammad Shaukat were sentenced to death in 2006 in a case pertaining to the killing of nine persons in an Imambargah in the Al-Falah area in 2003.

Sultan Mehmood alias Saifullah of proscribed Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan got capital punishment in 2010 in the murder case of Allama Hassan Turabi.

In February, the Sindh High Court granted permission for the transfer of seven militants of Jundullah, two LJ militants and one Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan militants to Hyderabad prison due to security concerns.

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