It was the time in 2002, when a 38-year-old, American origin, Daniel Pearl who was the South Asia Bureau Chief of the Wall Street General was working on an investigative report of the alleged connection between Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency ISI and al Qaeda. Later, he was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Karachi, Pakistan and the main accused Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and 3 others were sentenced for the crime. However, now, the Sindh High Court acquitted the accused and Daniel’s parents have to file a petition in the Pakistan Supreme Court against the Sindh High Court verdict.
On April 2, a two-judge bench of the Sindh High Court had commuted the death sentence of Al Qaeda commander Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh of British origin the main convict of Pearl’s kidnapping and murder. The court also acquitted three other persons, Sheikh Adil, Fahd Naseem, and Salman Saqib. All three were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Anti-Terrorism Court of Karachi.
The newly filed petition says that the Sindh High Court hasn’t taken into consideration that this ruthless murder was related to international terrorism and that evidence in terrorism-related cases could not be the same as in other cases of murder. The High Court also ignored that Omar Sheikh, the main accused in the case, had been involved in international terrorism.
Significantly, the Sindh government has already challenged the decision of the Sindh High Court in the Supreme Court. Simultaneously, the Prosecutor General of Sindh has filed an application in the Supreme Court seeking a speedy hearing on the petition of the Sindh government against the decision of the Sindh High Court. He has requested for a hearing to be started in the week beginning May 4. The petition by the Sindh government has demanded the death penalty for all the four accused in the case. It states that there is sufficient evidence against them, on which the lower court has stamped.
Significantly, Wall Street General journalist Daniel Pearl was doing a story on religious extremism when he was beheaded in Pakistan in January 2002. An anti-terrorism court sentenced the main accused, Omar Saeed Sheikh, to death and asked three others to face life imprisonment for their murder. And, all four appealed against the sentence while in jail.
Nearly 18 years later, on April 2, the Sindh High Court ordered the acquittal of three life-imprisoned convicts for lack of evidence and to change the death sentence of Omar Saeed Sheikh to seven years in prison. The court said that since Sheikh has been in jail for 18 years, his sentence of seven years is adjusted accordingly. Therefore, all of them are eligible for release. However, they were not released. The Sindh government arrested them on the day of the verdict, terming them a threat to law and order.