Islamabad -

Pakistan has carried out its first execution in over five years, sparking criticism from human rights activists.

Jail official Abdullah Khan Niazi says authorities hanged Mohammed Hussain early on Thursday morning in Mianwali city in central Punjab province. Hussain was an army soldier who was sentenced to death in 2009 for murdering one of his colleagues.

It was the first execution since the current government came to power in 2008. President Asif Ali Zardari placed an unofficial moratorium on executions after he was elected.

But Niazi said that the president and the head of the army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, rejected Hussain's mercy petition.

Zaman Khan, an official at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, criticized the execution, saying it indicates the government has changed its policy. - Sapa-AP