ISLAMABAD — Pakistan will begin executing criminals on death row whose appeals have been exhausted, an interior ministry spokesman said Tuesday, reversing an earlier announcement that only those convicted of terrorism would be executed.
"It applies to all (on death row), irrespective of the nature of the crime," said the spokesman, who said the order was given late on Friday but not publicized.
There are more than 8,000 Pakistanis on death row. The country had a de facto moratorium on executions in place from 2008 until December, when Taliban gunmen massacred 134 children and 19 adults in the worst militant attack in the country's history.
Politicians say fast-track executions are vital to reigning in militant attacks in the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people. Legislators voted in sweeping powers allowing the military to try and execute civilians, arguing that the country's civilian courts were too intimidated and inept to convict militants and murderers.