Saudi Arabia on Wednesday beheaded a Pakistani convicted of heroin smuggling, despite arguments by rights experts that use of the death penalty in such cases violates international law.

Nazir Ahmed Sultan Ahmed was found guilty of smuggling the drug in his intestines, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Authorities carried out the sentence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, it said.

According to AFP tallies, he is the 98th foreigner or Saudi national to be executed in the conservative Muslim kingdom this year.

The number of executions has surged compared with the 87 recorded by AFP for the whole of 2014, but still far below the record 192 which Amnesty International said were carried out in 1995.

Drug and murder convictions account for the bulk of executions in Saudi Arabia.

According to London-based Amnesty, use of the death penalty for other than the “most serious crimes” — premeditated killings — violates international law.

Saudi court proceedings “fall far short” of global norms of fairness, according to the rights watchdog.

The interior ministry cites deterrence to justify the punishment and has stressed “the physical and social harm” caused by drugs.

Under the Gulf state’s strict Islamic sharia legal code, drug trafficking, rape, murder, armed robbery and apostasy are all punishable by death.