With the execution of lone surviving Mumbai attacks gunman Ajmal Kasab, India hopes "rule of law" will prevail in Pakistan as well, said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid even as civil society organisations were saddened by the end to the country’s informal moratorium on capital punishment.
Mr. Khurshid denied India had asked Pakistan to postpone the visit of Interior Minister Rehman Malik because it planned to hang Kasab around the same time. He insisted proper procedure had been followed and Kasab executed after all avenues of appeal, before the courts and finally the President, were exhausted.
It was Mr. Malik’s Indian counterpart Sushil Kumar Shinde who made the assessment and felt as Parliament will be in session and "other factors were taken into account", there will not be ample time. "But it was decided that there will be another, more appropriate time for a visit of this nature."
Referring to the trial in Pakistan of seven persons accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks, the Minister expected the rule of law to prevail in Pakistan as well because criminal procedures in both countries were largely similar. "And if that is upheld, I would imagine that they will be able to say that they have done whatever it takes to reach closure on an extremely unpleasant and unhappy event that caused enormous, enormous distress to our country and indeed a tremendous amount of tragic loss to our people," he said.
India has been pressing for a faster trial in Pakistan of those accused of plotting the Mumbai attacks and feels a "little balm'' in the form of their conviction would go a long way in improving bilateral ties.
The Minister said India had not received any request from Pakistan for handing over the body of Kasab but sidestepped a question on whether his remains would be exhumed if that happened. Mr. Malik has told journalists in Pakistan that Islamabad would consider requesting for Kasab’s body if a request was made by his family members.
Kasab’s crimes were the gravest possible, agreed Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch (HRW). But death penalty is both morally objectionable and ineffective. India should not have lowered itself to Kasab’s level, he said. ``Instead of resorting to the use of execution to address heinous crime, India should join the rising ranks of nations that have taken the decision to remove the death penalty from their legal frameworks,’’ said Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW’s South Asia director.
Amnesty International too recognised the gravity of the crimes for which Kasab was convicted and sympathised with the victims of these acts and their families, "but the death penalty is the ultimate cruel and inhuman form of punishment,” said its India official Shashikumar Velath.
India resumed executions days after the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee adopted a draft resolution calling for a global moratorium on the death penalty.