300th execution in a year: Disabled man set to hang in Pakistan

A wheelchair-bound prisoner is to be hanged today, despite previous executions being called off after alarm raised by human rights activists

Islamabad: Jail authorities in Pakistan were on Tuesday set to hang a 43-year-old paraplegic, who developed tubercular meningitis while on death row after being convicted of murder, which according to rights group will be the 300th execution since the controversial moratorium was lifted in the country.

Abdul Basit, who is paralysed from the waist down, was convicted in May 2009 of murder and is scheduled to be hanged today. Amnesty International, in its report, said it has recorded 299 executions since the death penalty was reinstated, following a deadly attack in an army-run public school in Peshawar on December 2014.

“Even if the authorities stay the execution of Abdul Basit, a man with paraplegia, Pakistan is still executing people at a rate of almost one a day. There was no evidence the relentless executions have done anything to check extremism in the country,” David Griffiths, the group’s South Asia research director, said.

Third time unlucky?
This was the third time that an execution warrant has been issued for Basit. He was first scheduled to be hanged on July 29, but the execution was stayed by the Lahore High Court, when the legality of the case was challenged.

Abdul Basit was convicted in May 2009 for murder. Pic/AFP
Abdul Basit was convicted in May 2009 for murder. Pic/AFP

On September 1, that petition was dismissed and a new execution warrant was issued on September 22 , but it was again put on hold after the Supreme Court ruled that the execution could not proceed.

13 years
The punishment awarded by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court to 32-year-old Saqlain Haider yesterday on charges of posting hateful content on October 27 on Facebook. He has also been fined with R2,50,000 on three counts.

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