Death Penalty And The Right To Life

Death Penalty And The Right To Life

A death sentence was awarded to the Indian spy Kulbhsuhan Jhadav who had been on trial by military courts where it had been established with all the requisite evidence in hand that he was the culprit behind many heinous state-sponsored activities in Pakistan. That had also put him on a list of RAW agents who had failed to achieve their extremist goals (Research and Analysis Wing or RAW is the primary foreign intelligence agency of India). Even though many innocent people of Pakistan have been murdered because of him, many advocates of human rights question his death penalty as being against the right to life. So a question arises, is this penalty proportionate to the crime he did or, in other words, should Pakistan aim for retributive justice?

In general, punishment of certain crimes by death is known as capital punishment. There has been a major trend among states towards abolishing the death sentence. However, there are still 56 states which retain this punishment. Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits capital punishment. In 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 the United Nations General Assembly adopted non-binding resolutions for the complete evacuation of this punishment. The death penalty is mainly reserved for crimes of espionage, war, terrorism, murder, treason, defection or sexual offences. There is a clear figure of Muslim majority developing states which consider this as an option in punishments, however, most of the executions (more than 2000) have taken place in a non-Muslim country, China.

Jurists oppose this penalty with arguments that it encourages the culture of violence and lacks the objective of deterrence. However, Kulbhsuhan’s punishment is met with arguments that it is morally justified and proportionate to the crimes when applied in murder, multiple homicides, mass killing, terrorism and genocide. Robert Blecker, professor at New York Law School is among those who defended this argument. He says that the punishment must be painful and proportionate to the crime. Even the 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant defended this punishment and said that every murderer deserves to die on the grounds that loss of life is incomparable to any jail term. Support for the death penalty could also be seen in the polls held in South Africa where 76 percent supported the reintroduction of the death penalty which had been abolished in South Africa. Even the 2010 Gallup poll shows that 65 percent of Americans are in favour of death penalty for the person who commits murder. Currently, Turkey and Philippines are making a move to re-establish the death penalty.

Crimes for which the Indian spy has been convicted are so serious that they demand strict penalty. Moreover, the death sentence would have a deterring effect on potential state-sponsored Indian spy agents currently working in and out of Pakistan. Pakistan, as a sovereign state, has a responsibility to punish them to the degree they deserve. Failure of the extremist elements in India to accept and understand the reality of the existence of Pakistan since its independence is the tragedy of the region which reflects the mindset of the largest failed democracy of India.

So shouldn’t we put Kulbhsuhan to death who has been the mastermind behind many activities of insurgency especially in Balochistan and other areas of Pakistan? Why not? The society should be cleansed of mad cows.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of or any organization with which he might be associated.

Abid Ali Nizami

Author: Abid Ali Nizami

The writer holds an LL. B (Hons) degree from the University of London and is currently running his own law firm in DHA, Lahore. He has avid interest in tax law and intellectual property matters.