by Mateen Haider, Dawn
Faisalabad: Aqeel alias Dr Usman and Arshad Mehmood have been executed in Faisalabad on Friday night, in the first capital punishment carried out in the country since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the moratorium on the death penalty, sources said.
Usman a former soldier of the army’s medical corps, was executed in relation to an attack on the headquarters of the Pakistan Army in 2009 in Rawalpindi. Arshad Mehmood, was executed for an assassination attempt on former military ruler, General (retd.) Pervez Musharraf.
“Aqeel alias Usman and Arshad were hanged in Faisalabad Jail at 9:00 pm,” a Punjab govt source told Reuters.
Security had been tightened at Faisalabad’s central and district prisons ahead of the executions.
The black warrant for Dr Usman was signed by Army Chief General Raheel Sharif late on Thursday night.
The prime minister had lifted the moratorium a day after terrorists attacked Peshawar’s Army Public School, killing 141 people, most of them children.
Earlier on Friday, the UN human rights office had made an appeal to refrain from resuming executions, saying this would not stop terrorism and might even feed a “cycle of revenge”.
“To its great credit, Pakistan has maintained a de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 2008, and we urge the government not to succumb to widespread calls for revenge, not least because those at most risk of execution in the coming days are people convicted of different crimes, and can have had nothing to do with Wednesday’s premeditated slaughter,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said.
Eleven soldiers had lost their lives in the Oct 10, 2009 attack when 10 heavily armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed the army’s General Headquarter (GHQ) holding off commandos for hours.
Dr Usman, who was caught injured during the Oct 10 raid on the army headquarters by militants, was sentenced to death in 2011 by a military court which had awarded prison terms to others in the GHQ attack case.
A retired soldier, Imran Siddiq, was awarded life imprisonment in the case at the time whereas three civilians — Khaliqur Rehman, Mohammad Usman and Wajid Mehmood — were given life terms while two others, Mohammad Adnan and Tahir Shafiq (both civilians), were given eight and seven years jail sentence respectively.
Apart from Dr Usman, who was caught during the attack, other serviceman and five civilians were found guilty of abetment.
Their trial by the military court, which was headed by a brigadier, had lasted over five months and had taken place at an undisclosed location.
Mehmood, who was a trooper, was among the five sentenced to be hanged for their role in an Al Qaeda-inspired assassination attempt on Musharraf’s life in late 2003.
Musharraf, who was in power at the time, narrowly escaped the bid when two suicide car bombers rammed his motorcade on Dec 25, 2003, in Rawalpindi. Fifteen people were killed in that attack.
It was the second attempt on Musharraf’s life that month, and several soldiers, air force personnel and militants were arrested after the two attacks.
Mehmood and civilians Zubair Ahmed, Rashid Bhatti, Rashid Qureshi, Ghulam Sarwar and Akhlaque Ahmed were convicted in the case.