Hours after Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the release of British-born terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who is convicted of abducting and murdering US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002, India on Thursday described the ruling as a “travesty of justice” and said the case truly demonstrated Pakistan’s intent on taking action on terror.
Sheikh is among the three terrorists India freed in 1999 in exchange for the hostages of the hijacked IC-814.
When asked at the weekly briefing, Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “I had mentioned earlier about 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 terror front. It is a travesty of justice not to find Omar Saeed guilty of any charges in this heinous act of terror.”
The MEA spokesperson also underlined New Delhi’s expectation from Islamabad on terrorism. “Our position on Pakistan taking sustained, verifiable, credible and irreversible action against terrorism and terrorist funding emanating from all territory under its control remain unchanged,” he said.
On Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court dismissed all charges against Sheikh who has already spent 18 months in prison in Pakistan for the crime.
Last month, the Sindh High Court in its order said that Sheikh and his three aides – Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil – who were convicted and sentenced in the case, should not be kept under “any sort of detention” and declared all notifications of the Sindh government related to their detention “null and void”. It also described the four men’s detention as “illegal”.
On Thursday, the judges ordered that Sheikh be released immediately if he is not wanted in any other case. Faiz Shah, the government’s lawyer, told local media that he was disappointed about Thursday’s outcome and that the authorities would challenge the verdict.
Daniel Pearl, 38, was an American journalist who worked as the South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal. He was abducted in Pakistan’s Karachi in January 2002 while working on a story about Pakistani terror groups linked to Al Qaeda.
Pearl was later beheaded and about a month later, a graphic video of his decapitation was sent to Karachi’s US consulate.
Following global outcry and pressure from the US, Pakistan’s then president Pervez Musharraf had Omar Sheikh and the three other militants arrested the same year, after which they were convicted of abducting and murdering Pearl. Sheikh has remained on death row since this conviction.
(With PTI inputs from Islamabad)