ISLAMABAD - The Upper House of the Parliament was shared a surprising information on Friday that a total of 547 prisoners were presently on death row in the country and there was no moratorium on death penalty in Pakistan.
It is strange that the reported figure in the media about the number of prisoners on death row was about 7,000 to 8,000 as there was a moratorium on death penalty during the last five years of PPP regime. Only one death row prisoner was executed during the last regime who was a soldier from the armed forces. However, the figure of the ministry has surprised every body that is very low, contradicting the earlier figure reported in the media as well as by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in his written reply to a question posed by PPP lawmaker Syeda Sughra Imam told the House though presently there was no moratorium on death penalty in the country, executions are carried out on decision by the President in terms of Article 45 of the Constitution on mercy petitions.
The incumbent government had put on hold all the executions after a moratorium on death penalty expired last year. The government had not issued any fresh moratorium at that time but the President kept pending decisions on a number of mercy petitions of the death row convicts due to the policy of the government of not executing death sentences.
The House was told that among total prisoners facing death row, 63 had been awarded death penalty for their involvement in terrorist activities while 484 were facing this penalty in murder cases.
Replying to another question of Imam regarding the number of journalists killed in the country since 2008, the minister informed the Senate in his reply that total 37 journalists were killed in the country since 2008. According to the information collected from provincial police heads, 17 journalists were killed in Sindh, 8 in Balochistan followed by 6 in Kkhyber Pakhtunkhwa, 5 in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and one in Islamabad Capital Territory since 2008. Interestingly, the reply says that no journalist was killed in Punjab, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).