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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has been informed that 7,046 people on death row are awaiting execution in jails across the country, officials said yesterday.
The Interior Ministry, through the Attorney General’s office, submitted details of a petition of barrister Zafarullah Khan who briefed the court on the ordeal and mental tribulation inmates had to undergo.
He pleaded that a number of prisoners were suffering in jails because the government was sitting on a decision to commute death sentences to life imprisonment.
On December 11 last year, a bench of Justice Zaheer Jamali, Justice Tariq Parvez and Justice Ejaz Afzal directed the government to submit details of prisoners on death row after Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party claimed that 6,355 inmates were awaiting execution in Punjab province alone.
According to the ministry, 5,378 appeals against the death penalty are pending before high courts and 1,031 in the Supreme Court.
Of the 7,046 prisoners, 4,981 are counting their days in Punjab, 266 in Sindh, 102 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 29 in Baluchistan, while 532 mercy petitions are pending with the president.
The Federal Shariat Court is also seized with 21 appeals.
According to reports, the president has halted implementation of capital punishment in 78 cases, while appeals of six military personnel are pending with the military authorities.
The Pakistan People’s Party government, which placed a moratorium on executions in November 2008, carried out its first execution in November last year when Mohammed Hussain, a soldier, was hanged in Mianwali jail.
It is not the first time that the ordeal of inmates on death row has been highlighted before the apex court. In 2008, the court had taken notice of a report that 7,000 inmates were awaiting execution.