The federal government and Sindh government will be filing a review petition against the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan’s order to immediately release Omar Sheikh, the prime accused in the Daniel Pearl kidnapping and murder case. Both governments, after establishing contact, are in agreement to approach the Supreme Court in this case, said a statement from the Office of the Attorney General of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the United States Secretary of State Antony J Blinken issued a statement condemning the SC’s judgement, and said the US is prepared to prosecute British-born Omar Sheikh in the United States if the Pakistani courts fail to deliver justice to the slain US journalist.
“A spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General for Pakistan has stated that the Federal Government is in contact and fully engaged with the Government of Sindh in respect to the order/judgement passed today by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Daniel Pearl’s murder case,” the statement from the Office of the Attorney General said.
“It is confirmed that a Review Petition seeking review and recall of the order of acquittal passed by the Supreme Court will be filed at the earliest. The Federal Government is extending full support to the Provincial Government in this matter and all legal steps are being taken in this regard.”
Prepared to prosecute Sheikh in US: Blinken
The US Sectetary of State Antony J Blinken, in an official statement, said that the US is “deeply concerned” over the developments in the case and will ensure that justice is secured for Daniel Pearl and his family.
“The United States is deeply concerned by the Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision to acquit those involved in Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder and any proposed action to release them,” Blinken said in a detailed statement, titled “Seeking Justice for the Kidnapping and Murder of Daniel Pearl.”
“The court’s decision is an affront to terrorism victims everywhere, including in Pakistan. The United States recognises past Pakistani actions to hold Omar Sheikh accountable and notes that Sheikh currently remains detained under Pakistani law,” the statement reads.
“We expect the Pakistani government to expeditiously review its legal options to ensure justice is served. We take note of the Attorney General’s statement that he intends to seek review and recall of the decision. We are also prepared to prosecute Sheikh in the United States for his horrific crimes against an American citizen. We are committed to securing justice for Daniel Pearl’s family and holding terrorists accountable.”
A separate statement issued by a spokesperson of the White House said: “United States is outraged at the acquittal of Omar Sheikh by Pakistani Supreme Court who brutally killed American Journalist Daniel Pearl. US calls on Pakistan to expeditiously look at legal options and also let US prosecute Sheikh for his heinous crimes.”
The Daniel Pearl case
Daniel Pearl, an American journalist heading the Wall Street Journal’s Pakistan bureau in 2002, was beheaded and mutilated after being allegedly kidnapped by the accused. Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (known as Omar Sheikh), Fahad Nasim Ahmed, Syed Salman Saqib, and Sheikh Muhammad Adil were sentenced to death or life imprisonment on charges of kidnapping Pearl and conspiring in his murder. However, the Sindh High Court acquitted all four in April 2020. This acquittal was appealed by Pearl’s parents and the Sindh government in the Supreme Court.
In December 2020, the SHC ordered the immediate release of the accused—citing lack of legal grounds to keep them detained—leading to “deep concern” expressed by the United States. Meanwhile, a contempt of court case was heard in the Sindh High Court against the authorities withholding the release.
The Supreme Court’s order on Thursday upheld the order of the Sindh High Court, dismissing the appeals and calling for the immediate release of accused.
The federal government and the Sindh government will now be filing a review petition against the SC’s latest judgement.