Asia

Pakistan papers back return of executions

A screen grab from Business Recorder Image copyright Business Recorder
Image caption More than 70,000 people are thought to have died in terror attacks in the past 13 years

The front pages of leading Pakistani dailies carry prominent reports on the first executions in the country since the moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in the aftermath of this week's Peshawar school attack.

Several dailies carry the pictures of the two militants who were hanged at a prison in the central city of Faisalabad on Friday and urge more executions.

Mohammed Aqeel, alias Dr Usman, was sentenced to death over an attack on a military HQ in 2009 and Arshad Mehrban for an assassination attempt on then-President Pervez Musharraf in 2003.

'An eye for an eye'

"A fine beginning: Made in Faisalabad," says the leading business daily Business Recorder in a large headline. The paper carries a picture of a banner from a sit-in in Karachi remembering the 141 people killed in the Peshawar attack.

"An eye for an eye, hang them all, hand them high, MQM (Pakistan)," the banner reads.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption In June Pakistan's military began an operation against militants in the north, killing hundreds of Taliban fighters

The largest-selling Urdu daily Jang and its sister publication The News also display a graphic picture of the two hanged men on their front pages.

Even dailies that chose not to carry the pictures of the dead militants feature posters in support of their execution, displayed at commemorations for the Peshawar victims.

No peace without punishment

Several editorials argue that delaying the executions would only have encouraged militants.

"The Peshawar tragedy ultimately jolted the government and the prime minister rightly decided to lift the moratorium on executions," the pro-military Pakistan Observer says, adding that the move would improve overall security.

"To uproot terrorism the government and military authorities have started to take difficult and lasting decisions and implement them quickly," Jang says.

"The dream of establishing peace in the country cannot be realised without giving them the due punishment," Islamist daily Ummat says.

Backlash

However, some newspapers warn that the execution could lead to more bloodshed.

"The government is responding to popular pressure" and the resumption of the death penalty for those already under trial is "not the solution", says the English-language nationalist daily The Nation.

"Executing a few TTP [Tehrik-i-Taleban Pakistan] prisoners will not change the fact that the government still does not have a plan to attack the extremist mindset and those who propagate it," The News says, despite the contrasting view from its sister publication Jang.

Finally, the English-language moderate daily Express Tribune warns the government about an "expected backlash" from the Taliban.

"The TTP and their affiliates will likely trigger some sort of violent reaction and the authorities need to put in place measures to deal with such an eventuality effectively," it said.

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