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Pakistan lifts death penalty ban after school attack

Pakistani mourners near the school in Peshawar that was attacked by Taliban militants
Pakistani mourners near the school in Peshawar that was attacked by Taliban militants A Majeed/AFP

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday lifted the country's moratorium on the death penalty the day after Taliban gunmen attacked a school in Peshawar, killing 132 students and nine teachers.

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"It was decided that this moratorium should be lifted. The prime minister approved," a government spokesman told reporters.

The assault on the army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, the deadliest terror attack in Pakistan's history, has triggered widespread revulsion.

Political and military leaders have vowed to wipe out the homegrown Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands of ordinary Pakistanis in recent years.

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 observed since 2008.

Only one person has been executed since then, a soldier convicted by court martial and hanged in November 2012.

Rights campaign group Amnesty International estimates that Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process.

Army chief heads to Kabul

Pakistan's powerful army chief, General Raheel Sharif, was in Kabul on Wednesday for talks with Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani on tackling Islamist insurgents, a day after militants from the Pakistani Taliban killed 148 people, mostly students, at a Pakistani school in Peshawar.

Sharif, accompanied by the head of Pakistan's main intelligence agency – the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI – was due to meet President Ghani as well as the NATO commander, US General John Campbell, officials said.

Afghanistan routinely accuses Pakistan of providing shelter to the Afghan Taliban while Pakistan accuses Afghanistan of protecting members of the Pakistani Taliban.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or Pakistani Taliban, is an umbrella organisation of Islamist groups formed in 2007 following a raid by the Pakistani army on a radical mosque in Islamabad that left around 100 people dead.

The Pakistani Taliban’s goal is to topple the government in Islamabad and replace it with an Islamic Emirate under Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Afghan Taliban.

Though nominally affiliated, the two groups operate independently. The Afghan Taliban issued a rare condemnation on Tuesday of their Pakistani counterparts for the school attack.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

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