Dr Usman, Arshad Mehmood to be executed within 24 hours

FAISALABAD: Aqeel alias Dr Usman a former soldier of the army’s medical corps and the mastermind of the attack on the headquarters of the Pakistan Army in 2009 along with Arshad Mehmood who was convicted for the assassination attempt on former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf are expected to be executed within 24 hours.

Ahead of the executions security has been heightened at the central and district prisons on Faisalabad.

It is pertinent to mention that Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif Thursday signed the death warrants of six hardcore terrorists including Dr Usman, whose execution was pending.

Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) told that the Court Martial (military court) had already convicted these terrorists.

He further told that the Army Chief had signed the death warrant of those terrorists involved in attacks on military installations and the military court had already awarded death sentence to them.

Dr Usman, involved in GHQ attack, is on the top of the list.

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.

The decision has come only after after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the moratorium on capital punishment.

The premier lifted the moratorium a day after terrorists attacked Peshawar’s Army Public School, killing 141 people, most of them schoolchildren.

According to well-informed government sources, ever since Operation Zarb-e-Azab was launched on June 15 this year, the country’s military leadership had been pressing the federal government hard not only to legislate new laws to tighten the prosecution of dreaded terrorists but also to lift the moratorium on death penalty which was in force since 2008.

Due to the moratorium, over 8,500 criminals, including hardened terrorists, target killers, murderers and those involved in heinous crimes, are dodging death for the last six years. But in the aftermath of the Peshawar school massacre, the country’s political leadership gave a go ahead to the prime minister at the All Parties Conference to lift the moratorium and give a tough message to terrorists that enough was enough and they will not be spared anymore.

According to the sources, while lifting the moratorium on death penalty, the federal government has asked all the four provincial governments to process the cases of those on death row so that their death warrants or black warrants could be issued on a priority basis.

And the cases of dreaded terrorists and hardened criminals would be processed on a priority basis. The moratorium on death sentence was invoked by the Zardari-led PPP government under tremendous pressure from international community. Consequently, over 8,500 convicted prisoners continue to defy death despite the fact that they have already exhausted their judicial appeals and their convictions have been endorsed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.