Stories about death penalty

Is PCB to be blamed for the surge of spot-fixing scandals?

Six years after the dreadful fixing-ridden tour of England, Pakistan cricket is embroiled in another spot-fixing scandal. Five national players now stand suspended from all forms of cricket and will face a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) appointed tribunal. Unlike what happened in 2010, this time the PCB is acting swiftly and the investigation is moving forward. While these efforts need to be recognised and appreciated, the exact scope of this investigation remains to be seen. Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif were both suspended a day into the second season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL). While this affected Islamabad United’s balance in the PSL, it has also jolted Pakistan’s limited-overs set up. Khan’s loss is ...

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Will Pakistan be able to #SaveNabeel?

In September, Nabeel Masih, a sixteen-year-old Christian boy was charged under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. His crime was ‘liking’ a post that allegedly ‘defamed and disrespected’ the Kaaba. Over a month later the police have yet to submit an initial investigation report to the courts. This means Nabeel is currently languishing in jail. His family has been forced into hiding and, fearing for their safety, many of his Christian neighbours have fled the area. Fair trials are uncommon in blasphemy law cases. Should Nabeel have a proper and fair day in court he’d likely be found not guilty for two reasons. First, there is ...

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Why is Junaid Hafeez still languishing in jail?

Located in the south of Punjab, Rajanpur is the poorest district of Pakistan’s largest province. Over half the population lives below the poverty threshold and two-thirds lack a primary school education. It was into this bleak rural landscape that Junaid Hafeez was born and where his edifying story begins. At the age of 16, he had completed a Secondary School Degree with an ‘A1’ score – the top percentile among all students. In 2003, he was at the top of his class for his Intermediate (two year College) Degree in Premedical Studies. In 2009, while pursuing a joint degree in English Language and ...

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A test case for Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, a chance to do right

A place where the head is held high and the mind is without fear – Rabrindranath Tagore Last week in Chichawatni, following an argument between employees of a bus company and travellers, a scuffle ensued and passenger Mahinder Paal Singh had his turban, a strict requirement of the Sikh faith, ripped off his head and thrown to the ground. Chichawatni police took the unprecedented step and booked the five employees – all Muslim – under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law in what is now seen by analysts as a test case. Singh is a Pakistani citizen. This is his home, the only home he ...

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Does the death penalty target criminals or the poor?

A damning report places Pakistan as third in the list of countries where the most number of executions took place in 2015, after China and Iran and before Saudi Arabia and the United States. In other compelling statistics, in 2014, the Global Slavery Index, Pakistan ranked third in a list of 167 countries where the problem of human slavery is most severe. In 2012, we had the most number of people (28 million) affected by war and conflict. Along with other South Asian countries, Pakistan ranks high in hunger and malnutrition statistics, with about 41 million people undernourished in the period 2014-16, a whopping 22 per ...

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Why I will not celebrate Mumtaz Qadri’s execution

The rumours had been floating around since the beginning of the year, but not many outside a close-knit group really knew when it would happen, if at all. Then, before his crusaders could get a whiff of what was on the cards, his family was called in one last time, and at some ungodly hour before dawn on Monday, the patron saint of religious violence – Mumtaz Qadri – was hung at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. As a recap for those of you who don’t know (and I suspect there will not be many): the man in question killed Salmaan Taseer – the Governor of ...

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Five years on: We still await a verdict on Salmaan Taseer’s battle against blasphemy laws

Any discourse on slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination begins and ends with a trenchant critique of the country’s blasphemy law. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two and dealing with both simultaneously has become an inescapable reality. The close association between the death of a governor and the discriminatory nature of a law remains painfully relevant because it evokes dark memories of violence and bigotry. Taseer’s assassination strikes a raw nerve and reminds the world of an injustice that put the cuffs on a Christian girl who had allegedly passed derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It also plucks ...

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Is Pakistan bold enough to give sex-offenders the death penalty?

A recent verdict of the Lahore High Court (LHC) has laid appropriate emphasis on the award of both criminal and civil compensation for rape victims. In the contemporary judgment of Nadeem Masood vs The State, Justice Anwarul Haq, while invoking Section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), not only sentenced the convict to 20 years of imprisonment but also ordered the offender to pay compensation of Rs0.1 million to the victim and another one million rupees to the child born out of the rape. This judgement, however, comprises part of the population of less than five per cent of Pakistan’s rape cases that actually ...

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The question remains, why was Yakub Memon hanged?

The Supreme Court is an institution of the state. An independent Supreme Court does not mean that judges would not be cognisant of the political implications of their decisions. As the products of the society they live in, it would be unrealistic to expect the judges to make decisions devoid of any political, religious, or social influences. The Judicial Commission in Pakistan must have factored in the political ramifications of their decision, and the Supreme Court of India must have factored in the political ramifications of their decision while deciding Yakub Memon was to be hanged. Memon was pronounced guilty on September 12h, 2006 for ...

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Milord! But which one?

On December 17, 2014 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted a seven-year moratorium on executions, after the Taliban killed more than 150 pupils and staff during an attack at the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar. Subsequently, Pakistan’s Parliament passed a constitutional amendment that allows a parallel system of military courts to try terrorists – it was argued that a weak civilian judicial system had failed to bring militants to justice. Conversely, on April 16, 2015, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended death sentences passed by the new military tribunals, until it rules on the legality of the sentences concerning six militants who would have otherwise imminently ...

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