Amnesty International said the reprieve, which will come into force after being rubber-stamped by President Musharraf, would benefit almost one third of the world’s death row population, which is estimated to be around 24,000. Pakistan is believed to have the largest number of prisoners on death row anywhere in the world.
However, radical Mullahs called on Muslims to protest against the clemency, which they claimed was “un-Islamic”. They warned the government not to interfere Islamic Sharia law. The Mullahs have also challenged the decision in the courts, saying under Islamic laws only relatives of murder victims could pardon the offender. In the past, wealthier convicts have often benefitted from this provision and escaped a death sentence by paying compensation to the victim’s family.
This gesture may not save everyone on Pakistan’s overcrowded death rows but it is a gesture to be welcomed. Here’s hoping an abolition of the death penalty will not be too far behind regardless of the bloodthirsty views of the fundamentalists