Pakistan hanging canceled after pardon

Updated 08 January 2015

Pakistan hanging canceled after pardon

LAHORE: Authorities in Pakistan’s central Punjab province on Thursday canceled the hanging of a convicted sectarian militant after the victim’s family pardoned him, officials and a family member said.
The case is seen as a test of the government’s plan to execute convicted terrorists in the aftermath of a school massacre that claimed 150 lives in the country’s deadliest terror attack.
The stay of execution came as a roadside bomb killed four Pakistani security officials in a region where the military has been battling Taleban and Al-Qaeda militants for more than a decade.
The pardoned militant, Ikramul Haq, is a member of banned Sunni militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who was sentenced to death by an anti-terror court in 2004 for killing a Shiite Muslim three years earlier.
He was set to be hanged in the eastern city of Lahore early Thursday but his family came to a deal with the victim’s relatives on Wednesday night, Haq’s lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa Mangan, told AFP.
“The hanging was canceled after we reached a compromise with the complainant’s family. They have pardoned my client,” Mangan said, without giving further details of the deal.
Murder can be forgiven under Pakistani law in exchange for blood money, while rival militant groups may choose to pardon each others’ convicted killers.
Ehsanul Haq, brother of Ikramul Haq, confirmed the cancelation of the hanging.
A senior prison official also confirmed the move, adding: “A magistrate has recorded the statements and the execution has been stayed. Now the court will decide whether the person (should) be acquitted or not.”
Pakistan last month lifted a six-year moratorium on the death penalty in terror cases in the wake of the Taleban’s horrific massacre at an army-run school in the city of Peshawar, and has so far executed nine people.
The attack on Dec. 16 left 150 people dead, the vast majority of them children.
Pakistani officials have said they plan to hang 500 convicts in the coming weeks, drawing protest from international human rights campaigners.
Also Thursday, a roadside bomb ripped through a vehicle carrying three paramilitary troops and a policeman in the restive northwestern Kurram tribal district, highlighting the parlous state of security, highlighting ongoing insecurity in the region.
“An improvised explosive device planted along the roadside went off as a vehicle of paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) passed by, killing three FC men and one local tribal police official,” a senior government official told AFP.
The attack took place in the Thal area of the Lower Kurram tribal district along the Afghan border, which is rife with Taleban attacks and sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.


Taliban aim to sign deal with US by end of month

Updated 18 January 2020

Taliban aim to sign deal with US by end of month

  • Washington has for weeks been calling on the militants to reduce violence
  • The Taliban and the US had been negotiating the deal for a year

KABUL: The Taliban are aiming to reach a withdrawal agreement with the US by the end of January and are prepared to “scale down” military operations ahead of signing the deal, according to their chief spokesman.
The statement by Suhail Shaheen to Pakistani daily Dawn comes as the group and the US held discussions in Doha this week, after insurgent sources told AFP they had offered to initiate a brief cease-fire.
“We have agreed to scale down military operations in days leading up to the signing of the peace agreement with the United States,” Shaheen told Dawn in a report published Saturday.
He added that the Taliban were “optimistic” a deal with Washington could be signed before the end of the month and that the reduction in fighting across the country would also include the targeting of Afghan forces.
“It’s now a matter of days,” said the spokesman.
Washington has for weeks been calling on the militants to reduce violence, posing it as a condition for resuming formal negotiations on an agreement that would see US troops begin to leave the country in return for security guarantees, after a near two-decade fight.
The Taliban and the US had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead,” citing Taliban violence.
Talks were later restarted between the two sides in December in Qatar, but were paused again following an attack near the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, which is run by the US.
Any agreement with the Taliban is expected to have two main pillars — an American withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a commitment by the insurgents not to offer sanctuary to militants — and would ultimately have to be given final approval by Trump.
The Taliban’s relationship with Al-Qaeda was the main reason cited for the US invasion more than 18 years ago.
A deal would hopefully pave the way for intra-Afghan talks.
Many observers agree that the war can no longer be won militarily, and that the only route to a lasting peace in Afghanistan is for an agreement between the Taliban and the US-backed government in Kabul.
The Taliban have until now refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate regime, raising fears that fighting will continue regardless of any deal ironed out with the Americans.

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