Pakistan executes 3 convicts over 1998 plane hijacking
Pakistan has executed three Baluch militants who were sentenced to death for their role in hijacking an aircraft in 1998 in a bid to disrupt Islamabad’s first nuclear tests.
On Thursday, two of the convicts, Shahsawar Baluch and Sabir Baluch, were hanged in Hyderabad prison in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh, while the third, Shabir Rind, was hanged in the southern port city of Karachi.
The trio was convicted of hijacking a plane belonging to Pakistan International Airlines with 30 passengers on board on May 24, 1998, four days ahead of the country’s first nuclear tests.
The aircraft had taken off from Pakistan’s southwestern city of Gwadar in Baluchistan Province and was scheduled to land in Karachi when the men raided the cockpit to force the pilot to change the destination to India.
In this photograph taken on May 25, 1998, Pakistani army soldiers stand around a hijacked Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Fokker aircraft at Hyderabad airport, some 160 Kilometers north of Karachi. (© AFP)
The pilot, however, flew to Hyderabad, 160 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of Karachi, deceiving the hijackers into thinking that they were in India.
The next day, the Pakistani army stormed the plane and detained the hijackers.
According to Pakistani officials, the executed Baluch hijackers had called on Islamabad not to carry out the nuclear tests in Baluchistan and to give greater autonomy to the resource-rich but impoverished province.
On May 28, 1998, Pakistan conducted five underground nuclear tests in the Baluchistan desert, which made it the world’s seventh nuclear-armed state.
The executions came after a longstanding moratorium on the death penalty was lifted last December following an attack by pro-Taliban militants on an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
The assault, which was claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militants, left 150 people, mostly students, dead and injured 120 others.