A debate has started in Pakistan whether death sentence should continue in Pakistan or not. This debate has intensified since the Ex-Chief Justice of Sindh High Court; Justice Mushir Alam has said that those who are given death sentences from the lower judiciary should be hanged without delay. The Justice should have thought well before giving this statement keeping in the mind the quality of verdicts of the lower courts and the lack of fairness in the investigation conducted in murder cases. In one instance, two member bench of Sindh High Court comprising of well known Justice Rehmat Hussain Jaffery and Justice Wahid Bukhsh Braho sent back a murder case to lower court as statements of defence witnesses were not recorded and the lower court gave death sentence to the accused without a fair trial. Even in its review the lower court did not change the decision in the court declaring statements of the defence witnesses as an ‘after thought’. The lower court judge did not give proper consideration to the orders of the High Court.

People in Pakistan who are in favour of death sentence should ensure that proceedings in murder cases starting from registration of FIR till the final prosecution is done in a fair manner without political interference and corruption and in every matter Islam should not be brought in as the whole justice system is crippled by corruption. Cases of terrorism and other ordinary cases should be dealt with separately as those involved in terrorism have influential backers while poor people get sentenced in ordinary cases of murder.

In view of all this, the judicial system needs reforms and the death sentences should be changed into life imprisonment. The judiciary should first implement judicial reforms setting aside all the unfair practices in murder cases, after which it can take decisions to give death sentences. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should repeat what he did in his second tenure by changing all death sentences into life imprisonment and this process will not only be better for government but also for the judiciary.

In progressive societies there are no life threatening laws and people are reformed through education and better economic and living conditions as was done by the European Union. So for this to happen in our society, we should spend resources on people instead of sending them to the gallows.

SHAZIA ASHRAF BALOCH,

Lahore, November 11.