Pakistan temporarily halts state executions

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s government has halted all state executions temporarily, just a week ahead of the planned hangings of several al-Qaida-linked militants.

Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed said Sunday that the executions were halted until Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Ali Zardari held talks. The minister says Sharif will see Zardari when the latter returns from a trip abroad.

In 2012, Pakistan carried out its first execution since 2008. The previous government had put in place a moratorium on executions.

Some convicts, including members of an al-Qaida linked Pakistani Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, were scheduled to be hanged next week.

Amnesty International has said Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process, and could now be facing execution.

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