Authorities in Pakistan hanged seven prisoners on Tuesday, a move intended to demonstrate the country’s resolve to press its fight against Islamist militants.
The executions were simultaneously carried out in four prisons when Secretary of State John F. Kerry was in the capital, Islamabad, to pledge U.S. support and extra funding for Pakistan’s stepped-up counterterrorism offensive.
At a joint news conference with Sartaj Aziz, chief national security adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Kerry said the Pakistani military had made serious gains in dislodging terrorist groups from North Waziristan.
“The operation is not yet complete, but already the results are significant, and Pakistani forces and their commanders deserve enormous credit,” Kerry told Aziz. “But make no mistake: The task is a difficult one, and it is not done.”
He also announced $250 million in additional U.S. aid for humanitarian and rebuilding efforts in the country’s restive northwestern tribal areas.
In another sign of enhanced U.S.-Pakistan cooperation, the State Department announced that it has designated Maulana Fazlullah, Pakistan’s most-wanted man, a “global terrorist.” This means the department now considers Fazlullah, head of the Pakistani Taliban, a threat to the United States.
The U.S. government has taken no formal stance on Pakistan’s decision last month to end a six-year moratorium on executions in the aftermath of a Dec. 16 Taliban attack at an army-run school in Peshawar that killed about 150 students and teachers.
The European Union and the United Nations have urged Pakistan’s leaders to reconsider their resumption of executions. Sharif, however, has rebuffed pleas that Pakistan slow down its plans to execute hundreds of prisoners accused of terrorism-related crimes.