The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has once again recommended reinstating the moratorium on death penalty, with the aim of eventually abolishing such punishments. While it is a worthy cause, such suggestions are premature considering the socio-political leanings of Pakistani society.

Pakistan is not among the developed countries of the world; where an efficient judicial system has the space to end death penalties with the hope that the accused might learn a lesson and abide by laws. The conditions here demand setting a precedent, so that others think twice before committing such heinous acts. The crimes that have a mandatory death sentence imposed include some very serious areas that need our utmost attention. These include aggravated murder, murder, and terrorism. The report of the HRCP itself highlights a surge in crimes in all four provinces, especially Sindh.

When such conditions prevail, there is no choice but to put individual interests below the interests of the state. The first preference should be given to making Pakistan a secure zone. In the last few years, terrorist acts have increased. 340 criminals in Punjab, 96 in Sindh, 229 in Balochistan, 315 in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), 40 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and 4 in Gilgit-Baltistan were caught by the armed forces. These numbers highlight a trend; a trend that needs to be curbed in the most effective manner possible. The reason why military courts were set up was because we have suffered enough at the hands of the extremists. It was time to stop accommodating their human rights and use the death penalty where necessary. It also provides closure to those families that have suffered grave losses.

During the month of February, the HRCP itself pushed for a decisive action against the wave of terrorism after the Sehwan Sharif attack. To fill up prison cells with such individuals without setting a precedent of extreme punishment is not possible. We have cases of people taking the law into their own hands, and not respecting the rights of innocent people, much less care about the life or rights of those on death row. Lynch mobs, child abusers, terrorists and murderers can be found in the headlines more often that one can keep count.

Pakistan cannot afford to reinstate the moratorium, there is no space for such compassion here. It will only be seen as a promotion of the narrative that we house extremists. Maybe one day we will be a country where individual rights are respected at a basic societal level, where people respect the writ of the state. But today is not that day.