Pakistan resumes death penalty for terrorists
The announcement follows a deadly school attack that was condemned by Afghan Taliban
Pakistan announced Wednesday it will end its moratorium on the death penalty in terror-related cases, the prime minister’s office said a day after Taliban militants killed 141 students and school staff in the country's bloodiest ever terror attack.
“The prime minister has approved abolishment of moratorium on the execution of death penalty in terrorism-related cases,” an official from Sharif’s office said, according to Agence France-Presse.
Hanging remains on the Pakistani statute book and judges continue to pass the death sentence, but a de facto moratorium on civilian executions has been in place since 2008.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban condemned the school attack in neighboring Pakistan saying killing innocent children was against Islam.
"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has always condemned the killing of children and innocent people at every juncture," the Afghan Taliban, which often target civilians, said in a statement released late Tuesday, according to Agence France-Presse.
"The intentional killing of innocent people, women and children goes against the principles of Islam and every Islamic government and movement must adhere to this fundamental essence,” the statement read.
"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the official name of the Taliban) expresses its condolences over the incident and mourns with the families of killed children," it added.
The Afghan Taliban are a militant group loosely affiliated to the Pakistan Taliban, with both pledging allegiance to Mullah Omar.
They often distance themselves from attacks that kill many civilians, but they also deliberately target non-combatants.
The attack was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as revenge for a major military offensive in the region.
Meanwhile, Pakistan began three days of mourning for the children and school staff massacred in the country's deadliest ever terror attack.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced three days of national mourning and described the attack as a “national tragedy unleashed by savages”.
“These were my children. This is my loss. This is the nation's loss,” said Sharif, who was later due to host a meeting of all parliamentary parties in Peshawar.
Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai, herself shot by the Taliban in 2012, said she was “heartbroken” by “the senseless and cold-blooded” killings. US President Barack Obama condemned the attack as “heinous” and said America would stand by Pakistan in its struggle against violent extremism.
Leaders in Europe echoed the condemnation. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott offered his own sympathy to Pakistan, as his government deals with the fallout from a cafe siege by a deranged Islamist gunman.
The school on Peshawar's Warsak Road is part of the Army Public Schools and Colleges System, which runs schools nationwide. Its students range in age from around 10 to 18.
Tuesday's attack was shocking even by the standards of Pakistan, which has suffered thousands of deaths in bomb and gun attacks since the TTP rose up in 2007.
TTP spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said Tuesday's assault was carried out to avenge Taliban fighters and their families killed in the army's offensive against militant strongholds in North Waziristan.
“We are doing this because we want them to feel the pain of how terrible it is when your loved ones are killed,” he said.
“We are taking this step so that their families should mourn as ours are mourning.”
The military has hailed the offensive as a major success in disrupting the TTP's insurgency.
More than 1,600 militants have been killed since the launch of operation Zarb-e-Azb in June, according to data compiled by AFP from military statements.
“The militants know they won't be able to strike at the heart of the military, they don't have the capacity. So they are going for soft targets,” Talat Masood, a retired general and security analyst, told AFP.