LAHORE - Executions of a female and 57 male condemned prisoners whose mercy petitions were rejected by the President of Pakistan, but implementation was halted due to the holy month of Ramazan, will start shortly, said a top officer of the Punjab Prisons Department on Wednesday.

It is worth mentioning here that out of over 5,600 condemned prisoners in the Punjab jails 151 have been executed so far, six of whom were hanged last year while appeals of others are pending with the President of Pakistan, the Supreme Court, the high courts or the Federal Shariat Court and GHQ, official statistics gathered by The Nation revealed.

As many as 22 prisoners whose mercy petitions have been rejected by the President of Pakistan are in the Lahore region jails, seven in Rawalpindi, 16 in Faisalabad and 12 condemned prisoners are in the Multan region jails.

One female prisoner whose mercy petition was rejected by the President was mentally retarded. She was shifted from Kot Lakhpat jail to Mental Hospital for treatment, said a jail officer seeking anonymity.

Former President Asif Ali Zardari placed a five-year moratorium on executions in June 2008. However, the hiatus was interrupted in November 2012 when the military executed a soldier who was found guilty of murder. After that nobody was sent to the gallows as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif once again suspended the death penalty even though the moratorium expired in June 2013. The suspension on executions imposed by the new government in October was lauded by the international community and human rights organisations.

As per statistics, there were 5,430 male and 47 female condemned prisoners in the four regions of Punjab i.e. Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Multan. There were 2,026 male and 17 female death row prisoners in the jails of Lahore region which comprises Lahore, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Pakpattan and Sialkot districts.

Of these prisoners, the appeals of 1,527 males and 15 females are pending with the Lahore High Court; those of 359 males and one female with the Supreme Court and 118 mercy petitions are pending with the President of Pakistan. The mercy petitions of 22 males and one female have been rejected, but they have not been executed.

In Rawalpindi region, there were 1,000 male and eight female condemned prisoners of whom the appeals of 750 males and eight females are pending in the high court, 182 in the Supreme Court, one in the GHQ, and 60 in the Presidency, while appeals of seven have been rejected by the President. Rawalpindi, Attock, Gujrat, Jhelum, Mandi Bahauddin and Chakwal fall into Rawalpindi region.

The appeals of 1,296 male and nine female condemned prisoners were pending in Faisalabad region. Of these, appeals of 1,046 male and nine female prisoners are in the high court, 178 in the Supreme Court and 56 in the Presidency while mercy appeals of 16 have been rejected by the President, but they have not been hanged so far. Faisalabad region comprises Faisalabad, Mianwali, Jhang, Sargodha, Khushab, Bhakkar and Toba Tek Singh districts.

Similarly, 1,108 male and 13 female prisoners are awaiting their fate in Multan region’s jails. Of them, the appeals of 895 males and 10 females are pending in the high court and those of 137 males and three females in the Supreme Court while mercy petitions of 64 are pending with the President’s office. The appeals of 12 condemned prisoners have been rejected by the President.

After rejection of the mercy petition of any condemned prisoner by the President of Pakistan, the Ministry of Interior informs the provincial home department of the development, which forwards the same to the jail superintendent concerned. The superintendent sends the same information to the district and sessions judge concerned with the request to fix date of execution. The district and sessions judge is bound to fix execution date within minimum three and maximum eight days, said a senior jail officer.