ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Human rights groups have denounced Pakistan’s decision this week to carry out its first execution in four years, calling it a worrying step backward in a country that had been adhering to an informal moratorium on capital punishment since 2008.
Muhammad Hussain, 45, was executed by hanging Thursday at a jail in the central Punjab city of Mianwali. A former soldier, he was sentenced to death in 2009 for fatally stabbing one of his superiors over a personal dispute in the eastern Pakistani city of Okara. His pleas to both the country’s military and civilian leadership for a stay had been previously rejected.
Pakistani government officials said the country’s moratorium on executions applies only to civilian justice and not military court, the venue for Hussain’s conviction and sentence.
Zohra Yusuf, chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said in a prepared statement that she was “deeply shocked” by Hussain’s execution. “The government had vowed its commitment to the right to life and desisted from executing anyone….Despite this setback, HRCP still retains hope that the government will not abandon its pledge to work towards the abolition of the death penalty in Pakistan.”