Washington / Islamabad:
US Secretary of State Tony Blinken has spoken to Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the phone to discuss the accountability of convicted terrorists responsible for the brutal murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, according to the State Department.
Pearl, the 38-year-old head of the Wall Street Journal’s South Asian bureau, was kidnapped and beheaded while investigating a story in Pakistan in 2002 about the links between the country’s powerful espionage agency, ISI, and Al Qaeda.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Friday that Blinken had increased US concerns over the Pakistani Supreme Court decision to acquit Perle’s killer.
“Blinken and Qureshi discussed how to ensure accountability for convicted terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and others responsible for the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl,” Price said in a reading of the appeal.
In addition, Blinken and Qureshi discussed the importance of continued US-Pakistan cooperation in the Afghan peace process, support for regional stability, and the potential to expand our trade and trade ties, Price said.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the two leaders “discussed the latest developments in the Daniel Pearl case,” and Qureshi “stressed that it is important and in the mutual interest that justice is served through legal means”.
Qureshi congratulated Secretary Blinken on assuming his office and underscored Pakistan’s commitment to a comprehensive partnership with the United States based on the convergence of interests on a number of issues.
Qureshi told Blinken that peace in Afghanistan through a negotiated political settlement was one of the fundamental convergences between the two countries.
He said it is important to reduce the violence that leads to the ceasefire and work towards an inclusive political solution in Afghanistan.
Qureshi said Pakistan has facilitated the Afghan peace process and remains committed to working with the United States as a partner for peace, the Foreign Office said.
Qureshi and Blinken also agreed to remain committed and work together to advance the two countries’ bilateral agendas and promote common interests in the region and beyond.
A day earlier, Blinken expressed concern about the Pakistani Supreme Court decision to acquit those involved in the sensational kidnapping and murder of Pearl, saying the verdict was an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere.
In a strongly worded statement, Blinken urged Pakistan to examine all legal avenues to ensure that Pearl’s killers are brought to justice.
“The United States is deeply concerned about the decision by the Pakistani Supreme Court to acquit those involved in Daniel Perle’s abduction and murder and any measures proposed to get them released,” he said.
The Pakistani Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed appeals against the acquittal of British-born al-Qaida terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh in the Pearl kidnapping and murder case and ordered his release, a verdict that the American journalist’s family called “utterly Travesty “was convicted of justice.”
Sheikh and his three aides – Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil and Salman Saqib – were convicted of the abduction and murder of Pearl in Karachi in 2002.
Blinken said: “Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh was charged with hostage-taking and conspiracy to take hostages in the United States in 2002, leading to the murder of Pearl, head of the South Asia bureau for the Wall Street Journal, and the kidnapping of another US citizen in India in 1994” .
The court’s decision is an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere, including Pakistan, he said.
“We expect the Pakistani government to swiftly review its legal resources to ensure justice is maintained. We take note of the attorney general’s statement that he intends to request a review and recall of the decision. We are also ready to bring Sheikh to justice in the United States for his horrific crimes against an American citizen, “Blinken said.
The United States is committed to ensuring justice for Perle’s family and holding terrorists accountable, he said.
Pearl’s murder occurred three years after Sheikh, along with Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar, were released from India in 1999 and safely brought to Afghanistan in exchange for the nearly 150 passengers on the hijacked Indian Airlines flight 814 was.
He was serving a prison sentence in India for kidnapping Western tourists in the country.
A three-judge bank of the Pakistani Supreme Court, led by Judge Mushir Alam, on Thursday dismissed the Sindh government’s appeal against the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) decision to overturn Sheikh’s conviction in the Pearl murder case. The American journalist’s beheading in 2002 made international headlines.
The court ordered the release of three more people who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for their part in Perle’s abduction and death.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)