Pressure mounted on Pakistan to act against terrorist Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken calling up Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi about Pakistan Supreme Court quashing his conviction in the murder US journalist Daniel Pearl.
“The Secretary reinforced US concern about the Pakistani Supreme Court ruling and potential release of these prisoners’ responsible for Pearl’s murder, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said about the call on Friday.
They “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,” he said.
Soon after Saeed’s acquittal was announced on Thursday, President Joe Biden’s Spokesperson Jan Psaki, Blinken and Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson said the US could try him.
Wilkinson said that the US was ready to take custody of Saeed and bring him to trial in the US.
British-born Saeed was charged in a US court in 2002 with hostage-taking in connection with the murder of Pearl that year and the kidnapping of an American tourist, Bela Nuss, in India in 1994.
Pearl, who was The Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief, was kidnapped by the terrorists in Karachi in 2002 and murdered by having his throat slit.
The gruesome act was videotaped by his captors and circulated on the internet.
In the multi-pronged US campaign, Blinken said on Thursday, “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.”
Psaki said, “We call on the Pakistani government to expeditiously review its legal options, including allowing the United States to prosecute Sheikh for the brutal murder of an American citizen and journalist.”
The Pakistani government also faces domestic pressure against taking further action against Saeed who is considered a hero by some in that country.
Pakistan and the US do not have an extradition treaty.
Under international pressure Pakistan had Saeed tried in a court in the Sindh province and he was sentenced to death.
He and three of his fellow terrorists were acquitted by the Sindh High Court and that ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court.
During the phone call on Friday, Blinken and Qureshi also “discussed the importance of continued US-Pakistan cooperation on the Afghan peace process, support for regional stability, and the potential to expand our trade and commercial ties,” Price said.