Pakistan has hung two convicted militants in the first executions since 2008 when the country imposed a moratorium on the death penalty, officials say.
Prime minister Nawaz Sharif lifted Pakistan’s moratorium on capital punishment for terror-related cases on Wednesday following a brutal terror attack on a school that killed 149 people, mostly children.
“Yes, two militants Aqil alias Doctor Usman and Arshad Mehmood have been hanged in Faisalabad jail,” Shuja Khanzada, home minister of central Punjab province, where the executions took place, said.
A senior official from the prison department also confirmed the executions.
Terrorists hanged in Faisalabad prison
On Friday, the Pakistani army said it had killed 59 militants in clashes in the country’s north-west, including 32 in an ambush in a remote valley near the Afghan border.
The United Nations human rights office appealed to Pakistan on Friday to refrain from resuming executions after the Peshawar school massacre, saying this would not stop terrorism and might even feed a “cycle of revenge”.
The slaughter has put pressure on his government to do more to tackle the Islamist Taliban insurgency.
The UN rights office also urged Pakistan’s army and security forces to respect international law during their counter-terrorism operations so as to avoid exacerbating bloodshed.
“To its great credit, Pakistan has maintained a de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 2008, and we urge the government not to succumb to widespread calls for revenge,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said.
“Not least because those at most risk of execution in the coming days are people convicted of different crimes, and can have had nothing to do with Wednesday’s premeditated slaughter.”
There was no evidence that imposing the death penalty had any impact in deterring terrorism or other serious crimes, he said in remarks sent to journalists in Geneva.
“In fact, by feeding a cycle of revenge, it may even be counter-productive,” Mr Colville said.
He voiced hope that the perpetrators or planners of the mass school killing be brought to justice as soon as possible, while urging restraint by the Pakistani security forces.
“It is extremely important to maintain the moral and legal high ground, as human rights violations by authorities, especially civilian casualties, simply harden attitudes and feed the spiral of violence,” Mr Colville said.
The Pakistani Taliban, waging war to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state, had pledged to step up attacks in response to a major, ongoing army campaign against the insurgents in tribal areas.