Disabled man set for scaffold as Pakistan nears 300th execution in under a year

Pakistani prisoner and convicted murdered Abdul Basit, lies on a hospital bed in Faisalabad.
PHOTO: AFP / Justice Project Pakistan

Islamabad - Pakistan is set to execute a disabled man as activists said it was nearing its 300th hanging in under a year, with Amnesty slamming Islamabad Tuesday for "shamefully sealing its place among the world's worst executioners".

The execution of Abdul Basit, a paraplegic who was convicted of murder in 2009, has already been postponed several times after rights groups raised concerns about how a wheelchair-bound man would mount the scaffold.

Amnesty said in a statement Tuesday it has been scheduled again for Wednesday.

The rights group said it has recorded 299 executions since the death penalty was controversially reinstated following a Taliban mass killing at a school in Peshawar last year that was the country's deadliest ever extremist attack.

Forty-five people were executed in October alone, Amnesty said, making it the deadliest month since the moratorium was lifted.

No official figures are available.

"Pakistan's ongoing zeal for executions is an affront to human rights and the global trend against the death penalty," David Griffiths, the group's South Asia research director, said in the statement.

"Even if the authorities stay the execution of Abdul Basit, a man with paraplegia, Pakistan is still executing people at a rate of almost one a day." There was no evidence the "relentless" executions have done anything to counter extremism in the country, he added.

The rights group also alleged that many of the executions come after court proceedings that "do not meet international fair trial standards".

Pakistan ended a six-year moratorium on the death penalty last year as part of a crackdown after Taliban militants gunned down more than 150 people, most of them children, at an army-run school in the restive northwest.

The attack shocked and outraged a country already scarred by nearly a decade of extremism.

Hangings were initially reinstated only for those convicted of terrorism, but in March they were extended to all capital offences.

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