ISLAMABAD - The federal government has asked the interior ministry to halt the execution of all criminals awarded death penalty until September 9, the day when newly elected President Mamnoon Hussain takes oath as new president of the country.

The federal government has directed the ministry that decision would be taken after the newly elected President Mamnoon Hussain would take oath of his office as the powers to remit or pardon sentences rest with the office of the President.

Well-placed official sources Friday informed The Nation that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken this decision as a result of his recent meeting with President Zardari. Earlier, the PM had asked the ministry of interior to halt all death sentence executions after President Zaradi had desired to have a meeting with the Prime Minister on the issue.

President Zardari during his meeting with the Premier at the President House the other day said that previous PPP-led government had declared policy to stop the executions of all criminals awarded death penalty and to convert all the death sentences into life imprisonment, the sources added. Therefore, no death row prisoner was executed during the last five-year period except one case of an army man.

The President wished that five-year moratorium, that expired some weeks ago, should be upheld until September 9, after which the government can review the decision after consulting the new President Mamnoon Hussain who will assume office on September 9.

The President under Article 45 had the authority to remit or pardon the sentence of any prisoner including the death row prisoner. President Zardari in 2008 had issued a moratorium on the execution of all death sentences after the declared policy of PPPP in this regard.

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), soon after forming the government at federal level, revived policy of the previous government and decided to implement capital punishments in the wake of rapidly deteriorating law and order situation in the country.

Punjab chapter of banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issued a warning to the government on this decision and cautioned that it would wage a war against PML-N if any of its members was awarded death sentence. 

According to rough official figures, more than 7,000 prisoners in Pakistan have been awarded capital punishment and they are waiting for their execution.