PML-N playing politics on the abolition of death penalty – by Dr. Zulfiqar Ali

One of the first acts of ZAB, after Dec 20th 1971, was de facto abolition of death penalty. At the time Pakistan was one of the few such countries.On the black night of July 5th, he asked his servant if there were any files left to be signed. There were two convicts to be hanged in the mornings and there mercy petitions were pending. He signed them and asked him to make sure that Yahya Bakhtiar knew of it and do the necessary so that they were not hanged. Ironically he himself was hanged. Apart from obvious disgraceful manners of generals and judges, there was also a philosophical aspect. How can a person, who did not believe in killing of convicts, order the murder of a non-convict human being?

When BB came to so called power, she did the same and has been subsequently continued by PPP governments.

But that is not what I want to talk about. As per news reports Punjab Govt. has conveyed its concerns about moratorium on hanging by federal government. One of the reasons given to apparently lift the ban is that noose men have nothing to do and are getting pay. There are three such men who are burden on the poor nation. Urdu media conveys the message of news more aptly so I will post it here.

Express News July 24th 2012

There is no doubt that murderers commit the most heinous imaginable crime. But killing in revenge also does not help anyone, including the family of the victim. I also think that current concept of life imprisonment in Pakistan, also needs to be changed. I think in such cases convicts’ life imprisonments should mean that they remain in prisons till their last breath. Special prisons can be made where they are made to work in some productive ways with some incentives for work.

Some of us also may think that abolition of death penalty is against the injunctions of Quran so humans have not right to go against it. But we already know that Omer the Great abolished the amputation of hands for theft when social circumstances changed. This means that other such punishments also can be changed when social circumstances change.

Another aspect we tend to ignore is the feasibility of any punishment. As we know that with just few exceptions, society was totally nomadic at that time. There was no concept of jails as institutions till Omer the Great started it when Muslims became more aware of it, after coming in contact with Roman Empire.

More importantly, it was not feasible to have such arrangement in Bedouin society. Imagine the requirements if one person was punished to be put under physical surveillance. In such situations, convict obviously would have been given to the victim’s tribe. How much manpower would have been needed to guard that person, especially with contestant movement of tribe? How could the safety of that person have been assured? How to prevent the attacks on that tribe by convict’s tribe to get their tribesman free? It appears that it was because of such reasons that all punishments in Quran are to be summarily executed. Historians can also tell better whether such punishments were de novo, or similar to pre Islamic society. However it would not be unreasonable to assume that more likely these punishments existed before Islam, too.

We also know how Ghairat Brigand writers always tell that Mian Brothers are full of nothing but love of Pakistan. Apparently it may show the retrogressive thinking of Zialas, but things do not seem to be so simple. Some other recent developments show that their only and only goal seems to be embarrassment of Pakistan in the world society. More dangerous is that it will create more hurdles for Pakistan to get special status to European Union markets. And that, unfortunately, looks their aim.Same was done by Ishaq Dar our finance minister, when he  asked foreign investors not to invest in doomed Pakistan.

As per July 19th issue of Tribune;

“The European Union cautioned Pakistan on Wednesday against lifting ‘de facto moratorium’ (a law ending mandatory death sentencing), saying such a move will greatly weaken Islamabad’s case to seek duty-free access to the markets of the 27-nation bloc.

“Any move away from de facto moratorium on the death penalty will be received badly in the EU parliament,” said Jean Lambert, Chairperson of the delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia.”

July 20th, Nawaiwaqt published this.



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  1. Hammad Khan