Pakistan hangs 332 after reinstating death penalty

2016-01-16 13:22
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Islamabad - Pakistan announced this week that authorities have executed 332 criminals and militants since lifting a moratorium on the death penalty in 2014, marking the first time an official tally has been released.

The South Asian nation unveiled a grand National Action Plan (NAP) to curb militancy after Taliban assailants gunned down more than 150 people, most of them children, at an army-run school in Peshawar on December 16 2014.

In accordance with the NAP, the six-year moratorium on the country's death penalty was lifted and the constitution amended to allow military courts to try those accused of carrying out attacks.

Hangings were initially reinstated only for those convicted of terrorism, but in March they were extended to all capital offences.

In a written reply submitted to the parliament on Friday, the Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control said 332 people had been executed in the country.

Supporters argue that executions are the only effective way to deal with the scourge of militancy in Pakistan.

But critics say the legal system is unjust, with rampant police torture and poor representation for victims during unfair trials, while the majority of those who are hanged are not convicted of terror charges.

Amnesty figures suggest Pakistan is on track to become one of the world's top executioners in 2015.

According to the report submitted to parliament, 172 religious seminaries across the country have been also been closed on suspicions of having links to militant organisations.

"993 URLs and 10 websites of organisations have been blocked," it said.

The dossier added that 98.3 million unregistered SIM cards have been blocked.

More than 2 000 cases of hate speech have also been registered, while 2 195 people have been arrested. More than 70 shops have been shuttered throughout Pakistan for selling material deemed to promote hate speech.

Since 2013, paramilitary troops and police have been engaged in an anti-militant and crime operation in Karachi.

Thousands of criminals have been arrested in the operation's wake along with 890 militants in the city. Officials says militant attacks have fallen by 80% as a result, according to the report.

In in June 2014, the army launched the "Zarb-e-Azb" operation in a bid to wipe out militant bases in North Waziristan tribal area and so bring an end to the bloody decade-long Islamist insurgency that has cost Pakistan thousands of lives.

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