Pakistan hangs militant convicted of murder

KARACHI - Pakistan on Thursday hanged a militant convicted of murder, the seventeenth execution it has carried out since it lifted a six-year moratorium on the death penalty in terror cases following a school massacre last month.

Muhammad Saeed Awan, a member of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group which is linked to Al Qaeda, was hanged at Karachi's Central Jail, an official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Awan was convicted of shooting to death police officer Sadiq Hussain Shah and his son, Abid Hussain Shah, in 2001.

The United Nations, European Union, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on Pakistan to re-impose its moratorium on the death penalty, which ran from 2008 until December 2014.

Rights campaigners say Pakistan overuses its anti-terror laws and courts to prosecute ordinary crimes.

There are also concerns that death row convicts from non-terror related cases could be executed.

A court in the northern city of Rawalpindi on Wednesday overturned a stay order preventing the execution of convicted murderer Shoaib Sarwar, a spokesman for the firm representing him said.

Sarwar was convicted of murder in 1998 while he was still a juvenile, Shahab Siddiqui of the Justice Project Pakistan said, adding he had acted in his own defence and that of his sister.

The court's decision to overturn his stay order now means a "black warrant" for his execution can be issued at any time and carried out within 24 hours.

Taliban gunmen stormed an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar last month, killing 150 people, mostly children, in the country's deadliest ever militant attack.

In addition to ending its death penalty moratorium, Pakistan has since moved to set up military courts to try terror cases.