UN, EU's calls to halt Pakistan executions rejected

The government on Saturday rejected calls by the United Nations and the European Union to revive moratorium on execution of convicts, noting that capital punishment for terrorists did not violate international law.

"Pakistan respects the international community, but the country is passing through extraordinary circumstances, which demand extraordinary measures to be taken," a government spokesman said while referring to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in which the UN chief called for halting executions.

The spokesman said that a "peaceful Pakistan is in the best interest of the world".

Meanwhile, Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said in a twitter posting: "Pakistan is cognisant of its obligations under UN Human Rights Conventions/Covena­nts. Execution of terrorists violates no international law."

"The Secretary-General spoke on the phone with H.E. Mr Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, on 25 December 2014... While fully recognising the difficult circumstances, the Secretary-General urged the Government of Pakistan to stop the executions of convicts and re-impose the moratorium on the death penalty," a statement from Mr Ban's office had said.

Read: UN urges Pakistan to halt executions

Mr Sharif had during the conversation assured Mr Ban that all legal norms would be respected while handing down sentences to terrorists and during the execution of the sentences.

The government had earlier this week announced that it was setting up military courts for speedy prosecution of terrorism cases.

The government had lifted the moratorium on executions in the aftermath of Peshawar school carnage. So far six people, convicted of attacks on GHQ and former president Pervez Musharraf, have been executed.

Pakistan has some 8,000 death-row inmates awaiting execution. But the government says that moratorium has only been lifted in terrorism cases.

The number of those convicted in terrorism-related offences is about 170.

The European Union too had called for halting executions.

"We believe that the death penalty is not an effective tool in the fight against terrorism. The EU Delegation regrets the decision of the Government of Pakistan to lift the moratorium on executions, which had been in place since 2008," a statement by the EU Delegation to Pakistan had said.

"The EU remains opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We hope that the moratorium will be re-established at the earliest," the EU statement had said.