Ignoring increasing outcry from rights activists, Pakistani authorities Wednesday executed nine men on death row, bringing to 48 the number of convicts hanged across the country since the government reinstated death penalty in December.
Officials say the latest hangings took place in jails in Punjab, the most populous province of Pakistan, and the prisoners were convicted of crimes including terrorism and murder.
On Tuesday, 12 male convicts were executed, mostly in Punjab, in the largest single-day total since the government lifted a moratorium on the death penalty.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reinstated the death penalty after the December 16 school attack in Peshawar that killed 134 children along with 16 staff members. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault and vowed to carry out more such attacks.
The government has since intensified counterterrorism efforts and the restoration of death penalty is cited as part of the campaign.
Human rights groups in and outside Pakistan have been critical of the executions and demand the government halt them immediately. They insist many of convictions are the outcome of faulty and unfair trails.
More than 8,000 people are estimated to be on Pakistan’s death row.
“At this rate, Pakistan is turning itself into one of the world’s top executioners - a shameful club no country should aspire to join,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia Pacific Director.
He was responding to this week's mass executions and expressed concerns over the “staggering” number of lives at risk in Pakistan.
Griffiths said the death penalty is always a human rights violation, but concerns over unfair trials makes its use there even more troubling.
Initially, Pakistani authorities indicated prisoners convicted on terrorism-related offenses would be executed. But last week the government confirmed executions would resume for all capital crimes.
Amnesty International and local rights groups allege that juveniles are amongst those executed or due to be hanged. Pakistani authorities dismiss the allegation.