The Pakistan Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the release of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh convicted of the gruesome beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl. The court also ordered the release of three other Pakistanis who had been sentenced to life in prison for their part in Pearl’s kidnapping and death. “By a majority of two to one, they have acquitted all the accused persons and ordered their release,” provincial attorney general, Salman Talibuddin, told Reuters.
Pearl was working as the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal in 2002 when he was kidnapped in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi while reporting on Richard Reid, the British terrorist known as the “shoe bomber”. Pearl’s killing – which was filmed – caused international shock and outrage.
Meanwhile, the Pearl family was gutted at the decision of the court and called it a ‘travesty of justice’. “Today’s decision is a complete travesty of justice and the release of these killers puts in danger journalists everywhere and the people of Pakistan,” the Pearl family said in a statement released by their lawyer.
The new U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken did not mince any words either and criticized the decision of the Pakistan Supreme court. “I am deeply concerned by the Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision to acquit those involved in Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder. We are committed to securing justice for the Pearl family and holding terrorists accountable.” tweeted Blinken.
I am deeply concerned by the Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision to acquit those involved in Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder. We are committed to securing justice for the Pearl family and holding terrorists accountable.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) January 28, 2021
With a change in guard at the White House, Pakistan had a chance to woo Joe Biden by putting the killers of Daniel Pearl behind the bars. The former President Donald Trump had effectively cut out Pakistan on the international map by cutting the massive funding route that the previous Presidential administrations had charted.
However, by acquitting Saeed, Pakistan has left no choice for Biden, than to follow in the footsteps of Trump in handling Pakistan. And if Biden turns to the old ways of Obama’s administration of shelling money on Pakistan so as to keep India in check, then it would be nothing short of a political suicide.
New Delhi too condemned the acquittal of Saeed and highlighted the “very low conviction rate in Pakistan” when it comes to sentencing of terror accused.
“This case truly demonstrates Pakistan’s intent on taking action on the terror front. It is a travesty of justice not to find Omar Saeed guilty of any charges in this heinous act of terror,” said Anurag Srivastava, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson
Reported by TFI last year, Pakistan’s Sindh High Court had overturned the death sentence of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and found him guilty of the lesser charge of kidnapping. The High Court had commuted his death sentence to seven years in prison but the Supreme Court of Pakistan went one step further and acquitted him from the case. Pakistan is a safe haven for terrorists and once again it has been proved, beyond an iota of doubt.