With the Lahore High Court’s decision to uphold Aasia bibi’s death penalty last month, the debate on whether capital punishment should be abolished in Pakistan has once again become a hot topic.  In Pakistan, 27 different crimes, including murders of various forms, treason, blasphemy and ‘sabotage of the railway system’ are punishable by death. With over 8500 individuals on death row in the country, the issue of capital punishment has managed to gain a significant amount of international attention.

Despite the fact that a moratorium was imposed on executions in 2008, the new government in 2013 initially refused to renew the moratorium. Only after the government realized the adverse economic consequences of not renewing the moratorium did it suspend the implementation of the death sentence for an indefinite period of time. Despite all these measures, the execution of Shoaib Sarwar almost took place in September 2014 and was stopped only due to a last minute stay order.

While it is true that no civilian executions have taken place in Pakistan since 2008 and no military executions have taken place since 2012, the number of convicts on the death row continues to increase. With the current government’s unclear stance on the moratorium, most of these convicts face a constant threat of being executed immediately.

The debate on whether Pakistan should abolish the death sentence completely arises mainly because of the fact that abolishing the death sentence is contrary to Islamic Shariah and no law that contradicts any Islamic law can be implemented in the country. While this argument can be used to support the continuation of the death sentence on Pakistan, there are a number of other factors that strongly suggest that the death sentence should be abolished.

It is no secret that the Pakistani law and order system is heavily compromised. Unfair police investigations, baseless accusations and corruption within the judicial system aren’t unheard of in Pakistan. With such imperfections being present in the society, giving the judicial system the right to take away someone’s life is highly unjustified.

The death sentence is in itself a violation of basic human rights. That, paired with the frailty of the Pakistani judicial system, makes the existence of the death penalty in Pakistan even more odious. In a country where the rich and powerful can get away with almost anything, it is extremely unfair to allow capital punishment to exist.

In controversial cases like that of Aasia bibi, who was accused of blasphemy, the possibility of the presence of false accusations for individuals’ personal benefits makes the death sentence a seriously flawed punishment.

In murder cases, the concept of blood money is not unheard of. Individuals can get away with murder if they have the means to pay sums of money to the family of the deceased while those who lack these means are left to rot behind bars, waiting for death. This makes the death sentence in murder cases an even worse injustice.

In many cases, the convicted individuals fail to get adequate legal representation simply because they cannot afford to do so. This almost suggests that the death penalty is only reserved for the underprivileged and that some lives are more valuable than others. It is ironic that while everyone is supposed to be equal under the law, this blatant display of discrimination still exists.

Many of the convicts on the death row have been imprisoned for long periods of time. Shoaib Sarwar, for example, has already served 18 years of his life in prison. Punishing a person twice for the same crime isn’t acceptable in any court of law. Yet he was almost executed a month ago. While the government maintains its unclear stance on the moratorium on the death penalty in Pakistan, authorities very conveniently ignore the severe psychological impacts that the constant fear of death has on those who are sentenced to death.

The death row syndrome is just one of the many psychological issues that most of the death row prisoners face in which they become so worn out that they fail to understand the situation that they are really in. As a result, these convicts not only face time in prison, they also experience mental torture. The mental agony is further extended to the families of these individuals as well who not only have to deal with the possibility of a loved one getting executed but also have to deal with social issues associated with being the family member of someone on the death row.

Capital punishment is a flawed concept in itself owing to its irreversible nature. If a person is sent to prison but is later found to be innocent, they can be released. If a person is executed and is later found to be innocent, the damage done is irreversible. With such high stakes involved, is capital punishment a risk worth taking?

In a country where the court’s decision can be changed if a powerful contact is used, where police reports can be manipulated and altered according to the wishes of those in power, where money has the ability to buy freedom, the presence of capital punishment cannot be justified, no matter how hard we try.  Sadly, however, most Pakistani’s are of the view that capital punishment should not be abolished; we have become a nation that no longer values the importance of a life.

The writer is a finance student who enjoys travelling and spends a lot of her time writing about about social issues. Follow her on Twitter