Pakistan PM Orders Immediate Halt To Executions

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ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered an immediate halt to the carrying out of death sentences till he has discussed the matter with President Asif Ali Zardari, an official spokesman said.

Sharif made the decision after Zardari wrote to him, saying he wanted to discuss next week’s hanging of two high-profile Lashkar-i-Jhangvi militants amid calls from rights groups to cancel the planned executions.

The official spokesman was quoted by TV news channels as saying since that the date of the executions was approaching and the President was away from the country, the premier had directed the Interior Ministry to hold the execution of the death sentences till he holds a meeting with Zardari.

If the ruling PML-N goes ahead with the executions, it will end a five-year moratorium on death sentences that was put in place by the previous government led by Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party. The spokesman further said that reports that the President had stopped the implementation of the death sentences were incorrect.

He said the President had sent a letter to the PM in which he said he wanted to meet Sharif to discuss the issue of the long-pending death sentences of hundreds of prisoners. Yesterday, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told PTI that Zardari wanted to discuss the planned hanging of two militants next week with the PM. PML-N government has completed formalities to send the convicted militants to the gallows on Tuesday. It is not clear how Sharif will respond to Zardari’s proposal.