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Pakistan To Execute About 500 Terrorism Convicts

In Karachi on December 19, students protest to demand justice for the victims of the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar.

Pakistan says it will begin executing nearly 500 prisoners convicted on terrorism-related charges in the coming weeks.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan made the announcement late on December 21.

The Interior Ministry has cleared these prisoners for execution and their clemency appeals have been rejected by the president, Nisar told reporters in Islamabad.

"The executions must start...within the next couple of weeks," Nisar said.

Nisar also said the decision to lift a moratorium on the death penalty in terrorism-related cases was taken before the December 16 Peshawar school attack.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved an end to the moratorium a day after Taliban gunmen killed 132 children and nine staff at a military-run school in the northwestern city.

Pakistan imposed a moratorium on implementing the death penalty in 2008. Rights groups have criticized the decision to lift it.

Six people have been executed since the moratorium was lifted. Their cases were not related to the Peshawar attack.

With reporting by