Islamabad: After a strong reaction from the United States against Pakistan’s Supreme Court order of releasing Ahmed Omar Sheikh, prime accused in America’s Wall Street Journal journalist Denial Pearl murder, the federal government decided to file a review petition against the acquittal.
Meanwhile, the top court has also fixed Sindh government’s separate plea on Monday against the Sindh High Court (SHC) order wherein it declared null and void the detention of Sheikh along with other three accused persons under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance.
An official of foreign office on the condition of anonymity told Newsauditorium.com that the reservations of the United States and their possible redressal by Pakistan would be necessary given the restoration of relations between both countries after Joe Biden assumed the office of President of United States.
The official further said that Pakistan had finalized strategy, for the new US administration, on issues including Security, the Afghan peace process and economic partnership, fearing that the decision of Supreme Court could impede the dialogue before the start.
“It is for this reason, the federal government decided to avail a legal remedy of filing a review petition and extend full cooperation with the provincial government of Sindh where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s arch political rival rules,” said the official.
Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) office issued a press statement and said that the federal government was fully engaged with the provincial government regarding the top court’s order of releasing accused persons.
Following SHC’s order on the main appeal moved by accused persons, the Sindh government had detained the four accused persons citing the reason that release of such accused persons would pose a security threat.
A day ago soon after the top court’s order, the US expressed deep concerns asking the government to review its legal options.
A press release of the State Department on Friday said that the court’s decision was an affront to terrorism victims everywhere, including in Pakistan. It further said that the US recognized past Pakistani actions to hold Sheikh accountable.
The US also offered to prosecute Sheikh. State Department’s press release said that the authorities were prepared to prosecute Sheikh in the US for his horrific crimes against an American citizen.
It also expressed determination to securing justice for Daniel Pearl’s family and holding terrorists accountable.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Munib Akhtar will hear the plea of Sindh Government against SHC’s judgment annulling detention orders of accused persons.
The Sindh government has also filed a review petition against Supreme Court’s order which on January 28, 2021, extended the benefit of the doubt and ordered to release Sheikh along with other accused persons.
The top court had also dismissed appeals moved by Pearl’s parents and Sindh government and acquitted three other accused persons in the case.
SHC on April 2, 2020, had overturned Sheikh’s conviction for Pearl’s murder but it awarded seven years imprisonment to him on the charges of abetting the kidnapping of Pearl. Since Sheikh had been incarcerated since 2002 his sentence was counted as time already served by the high court.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam issued a three-page short order wherein one member of the bench Justice Yahya Afridi partly dissented with the judgment and awarded life imprisonment to Sheikh. The detailed reasoning of the order shall be released soon.
In its review petition, Sindh government contended that the top court’s short order overlooked important aspects of laws and fact floating on the record, adding that the top court’s conclusion was non-tenable in the eyes of law. It further contended that the last seen evidence, impersonation and identification parade had been proved against Sheikh, and had been maintained concurrently by both the courts below.