Pakistani clerics have denounced the government's proposal to commute death sentences to life terms, claiming that it was a move aimed at appeasing Western countries that oppose the capital punishment.
"We demand the government retract the clemency summary sent to the President for approval," the clerics said in a joint statement.
The statement said nobody has the authority to waive death penalties prescribed by the Quran for certain crimes.
"In the case of murder, only the heirs of the deceased have the right to pardon. Death punishment is awarded on the crimes such as robbery, adultery (both male/female) and blasphemy. Even an apostate is supposed to be killed," the statement said.
It charged that the government's move was aimed at appeasing Western countries that oppose death penalty.
Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Maulana Saleemullah Khan, Mutfi Muneebur Rehman, Qari Hanif Jallandhry, Maulana Naeemur Rehman and Maulana Niaz Hussain Naqvi were among those who signed the statement.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had announced in Parliament on the occasion of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto's birth anniversary on Saturday that his government would send a proposal to President Pervez Musharraf to convert all death sentences to life imprisonment.
It is still not clear whether the move will benefit Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh.