LAHORE/MULTAN/Rawalpindi - The authorities on Tuesday hanged 15 prisoners, the highest number of executions on a single day since reversing of the self-imposed moratorium on the death penalty in December after the Taliban school massacre.

The prisoners were executed in different jails of Punjab and Balochistan.

Fourteen executions were carried out in different jails of Punjab, including Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Multan, Sahiwal, Gujrat, Lahore and Rawalpindi while one man was hanged in Machh Jail of Quetta.

Three convicts Inayatullah, Zafar Iqbal and Muhammad Latif were hanged in Central Jail Gujranwala.

Inayatullah was convicted for the murder of seven people from the same family in 2002 over a land dispute in Wazirabad. Prisoners Zafar Iqbal and Latif were guilty of shooting four people including a woman in 1995.

Three men Muhammad Hussain, Nizamuddin and Azam were hanged in Central Jail Faisalabad.

Death row prisoner Nizamuddin had killed a man in 1998 while Muhammad Hussain was guilty of killing his opponent. Another prisoner Muhammad Azam was guilty of killing seven members of his in-laws in 2004.

A murder convict was hanged till death in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail in the wee hours of Tuesday.

The dead body of the convict, Raja Raees, was handed over to the heirs for burial.

Earlier, the jail authorities had arranged his last meeting with family members and the relatives.

In 1997, Raja Raees was held by police for his involvement in murder of Amjad Hussain, Raja Saeed and Raja Faris in Chirah Village. A sessions court awarded death sentence to the murderer, which he challenged in apex courts. But the apex courts upheld the verdict handed down by the sessions court.

Meanwhile, the execution of another murder convict Shakeel, who was awarded capital punishment by a court on account of killing his wife in Kottli Sattian, was stopped at the last hours after the heirs phoned to jail authorities and informed them that they had a settlement with the legal heirs of deceased. In the morning, the heirs of Shakeel, also produced official orders of magistrate Ilyas Rehan in this regard.

The jail authorities also received orders of Lahore High Court Rawalpindi Bench in which the court delayed hanging of Mirza Sarfraz in Tahir murder case committed in Gujjar Khan.

Separately, in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail, two convicts were hanged for murder. The convicts hanged were identified as Ghulam Nabi and Allah Rakha. Ghulam Nabi, a resident of Sabzazaar, was guilty of killing a man in Muzang area of Lahore while Allah Rakha of Kasur had killed a man in Mustafabad area.

Two men were hanged in Sialkot District Jail for the gang-rape of a minor in 1999.

Qila Kalarwala-Pasrur-based two rapists Nouman and Saleem were hanged for raping a minor girl 16 years ago (on May 06, 1999) in village Qila Kalarwala of Pasrur tehsil. An anti-terrorism court (ATC) had issued their black warrants following rejection of their appeals for mercy by the Supreme Court and President of Pakistan.

A man named Sultan Ahmad was hanged in Multan’s Central jail for committing a murder in the wee hours of Tuesday.

The condemned prisoner Sultan Ahmed was executed in presence of a magistrate Shakil Ashraf from Khanewal, local magistrate Muhammad Suleman and a medical officer.

Jail Superintendent Mohsin Rafiq said that Sultan had shot dead his opponent Mushtaq Makko on October 15, 2000 when he was going to a local court to pursue a case against Sultan Ahmad in Katcha Khoh (Khanewal). The court handed down death sentence to him which was upheld by the high court and Supreme Court. President also rejected his mercy petition.

Another man was executed in Sahiwal’s Central Jail for murdering a man in 1998, while convict Azhar Mehmood was hanged in Gujrat District Jail. Azhar had killed his opponent Shan in 1995.

A convict named Riaz Ahmed was also hanged for murder in Quetta’s Macch Jail. Prisoner Riaz Ahmad had killed Taj Muhammad during a robbery attempt in 2004.

Meanwhile, two more rapists would be hanged in Sialkot District Jail on Wednesday (today).

Village Begowala Sambrial tehsil-based two rapists Abid Maqsud and Sanaullah alias Billu had gang-raped a 15-year-old girl in village Begowala on August 29, 1997.

The Gujranwala anti-terrorism court (ATC) had awarded death sentence to both the convicts while announcing verdict of this case on June 24, 1998.

The latest executions bring over 80 the number of convicts hanged since Pakistan resumed executions on December 17, a day after a Taliban attack on an army school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people, mostly children.

There are more than 8,000 death row prisoners in the country.

Initially executions were limited to terrorism offences but on March 10 the government decided to implement death penalty in all cases following the Peshawar school massacre in December.

The moratorium on executions had been in place since a democratic government took power from a military ruler in 2008.

Supporters of the execution argue that it is the only option to deal with the scourge of militancy but human rights group are highly critical of it.

Authorities executed 12 prisoners convicted under militancy and murders charges on March 12, the second highest number of hangings in a single day since the moratorium on death penalty was lifted.