LAHORE - Mercy petitions of around 400 condemned prisoners are expected to be rejected by the President of Pakistan and they would then be executed in the next 30 days, a senior officer of the Prisons Department told The Nation on Wednesday.

Beleaguered by protracted terrorism, Pakistan lifted a six-year moratorium on executions following Peshawar school attack in which around 150 people, majority of them children, were massacred by Taliban. Initially the hangings were allowed in purely terrorism cases but now the scope has been extended to other crimes of heinous nature.

Despite severe criticism and opposition from the world community, the official said the government has decided to expedite the executions. In the last two and half months, 39 convicts have been hanged while four more will be sent to gallows on Thursday (today), he added.

There are about 5,600 condemned prisoners in Punjab alone at present. Their appeals are pending with the President, the Supreme Court, the High Courts, the Federal Shariat Court and the GHQ, official statistics revealed. Out of the above-said number, mercy petitions of more than 400 condemned prisoners would be rejected by the President and they would be executed from March 18 to April 18, said an official.

Another senior official of the Prisons Department seeking anonymity said that the exact number of hangings, which are to be carried out, could only be established after gathering information from different jails as the President’s Office sends its petition rejection orders directly to superintendent of the jail concerned via provincial home departments. He said that black warrants are issued by trial courts and not by the executive authority.

As per statistics, there were 5,547 male and 44 female condemned prisoners in all four regions of Punjab i.e. Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Multan. There were 2,080 male and 16 female death row prisoners in jails of Lahore region, which comprises of Lahore, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Kasur, Sheikhupura and Sialkot districts.

Out of these prisoners, the appeals of 1,545 males and 14 females were pending with the Lahore High Court, of 350 male and one female with the Supreme Court, of 175 prisoners pending with the President while one male prisoner’s appeal was pending with the GHQ. Mercy petitions of nine male and one female prisoner have been rejected but they were not executed as they have filed review petition in the Supreme Court.

In Rawalpindi region, which comprises Rawalpindi, Attock, Gujrat, Jhelum, Mandi Bahauddin and Chakwal districts, there are 1,012 male and 8 female prisoners on death row. Appeals of 727male and 8 female prisoners are pending in the High Court, 188 in the Supreme Court, one in the GHQ, and 79 in the President’s office, while appeals of 17 prisoners were rejected by the President.

Appeals of 1,295 male and 8 female condemned prisoners were pending in Faisalabad region, which comprises Faisalabad, Mianwali, Jhang, Sargodha, Shahpur and Toba Tek Singh districts. Out of these, appeals of 989 male and 8 female prisoners are pending in the High Court, 184 in the Supreme Court, 104 in the President’s Office while appeals of 18 were rejected by the President and they have not been hanged so far.

Similarly, 1,160 male and 12 female prisoners were waiting for their fate in Multan region’s jails out of whom the appeals of 908 males and 9 females were in the High Court, 152 males and 3 females in the Supreme Court, mercy petition of 90 pending with the President’s Office while appeals of 10 condemned prisoners have been rejected by the President.