Over the last five years, the federal government has been unable to devise a programme dealing with convicts on death row barring the option of simply relegating them in stagnating prison cells to await their fate.

Pakistan currently has the largest death-row population in the world reaching 8,200 prisoners languishing in jails for decades, awaiting their deaths. It is a matter of systematic failure where the doling out of death sentences in a definitive demonstration of justice being served has become ignorant to the ensuing disregard for the fate of the prisoners.

While law enforcement agents encourage and support capital punishment under the premise that it ‘deters crimes’ there is no research that supports that claim. What it does highlight is a gaping chasm in our justice system where being charged, tried in court and then sentenced, there is no due process for psychological evaluation of those convicted to allow for a more even-handed and cognisant methodology rather than consigning them to the gallows.

Pakistan’s legal infrastructure is flawed and susceptible to the routine miscarriage of justice. There is a need for reforms in the criminal justice system that is weighted and mired in corruption. Where wrongful convictions, personal vendettas, political patronage and misuse of the law are inherent, the use of capital punishment becomes problematic. Similarly, there is no question as to the fact that most of the murder convicts belong to poor families who cannot afford good lawyers to prove their innocence.