n European Parliament adopted resolution citing increase in discriminatory laws towards fundamental rights, minorities in Pakistan.

ISLAMABAD    -   The government is going to abolish death penalty for certain crimes as perjury, and production, possession and transportation of narcotics substance so as to comply with the human rights conditions attached to Pakistan’s GSP Plus (GSP+) status, well-placed sources told The Nation on Sunday.

They said Section 194 of the PPC, 1860 deals with perjury that pertains to giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence.

According to the officials, till date, no death conviction has ever occurred on charges of perjury. So, the authorities believe, there is no harm in reducing punishment for perjury from death penalty to a sentence up to life imprisonment or less than that.

Similarly, Section 9 of Control of Narcotics Substance Act, 1997 deals with production, possession and transportation of narcotics substance of more than 1Kg and the maximum punishment is death sentence. Till date only one individual has been executed on punishment awarded for possession of narcotics substance. The authorities believe that the punishment may also be reduced to life imprisonment.

In May 2022, a representative of European Union had reminded the country that trade preferences were linked to compliance with issues particularly the human rights including abolishment of death penalty. “GSP+ beyond 2023 is possible for Pakistan as the country’s government has assured the EU that all efforts to show compliance with the high requirements will be made,” said Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Pakistan, Thomas Seiler at a conference on ‘Human Rights Reforms in Sindh - GSP+ and Beyond’, organised by the Sindh government human rights department in Karachi. A resolution adopted by European Parliament had also cited an increase in laws that it saw as discriminatory towards minorities and fundamental rights in Pakistan. The GSP+ is a special component of the GSP scheme that provides additional trade incentives to developing countries already benefitting from GSP.

According to the sources, initially, the authorities considered reducing the scope of death penalty in other prevailing laws in the country as well including Sabotage of Railways (Section 127 of Railways Act, 1890); kidnapping (Section 364-A and 365-A of the PPC, 1860); and explosives (Section 3 of Explosive Substance Act, 1908). Section 127 of Railways Act, 1890 deals with maliciously hurting or attempting to hurt persons travelling by Railways. Section 364-A of the PPC deals with kidnapping or abducting persons under age of 14 in order to murder or subject to grievous hurt or slavery or to the lust of any person. Section 365-A of the PPC deals with kidnapping or abduction for ransom. Section 3 of Explosive Substance Act, 1908 deals with causing explosive likely to endanger life or property.

However, the authorities decided to retain death penalty in the heinous offences as sabotage of Railways, kidnapping or abduction for ransom and possessing explosives substances. The authorities maintained that such crimes come under the ambit of terrorism and trial for such offences is conducted by the anti-terrorism courts. They maintained that reduction in death sentence in such cases is likely to increase terrorism and destabilise peace in the country.