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Pakistan detains murder suspect despite acquittal under US pressure

Javed Rana
Press TV, Islamabad

Under intense pressure by the US, Pakistan has refused to set free a suspected high profile militant despite his acquittal by the country’s highest court on the charges of playing a role in the murder of American journalist almost 19 years ago.

Pakistan has been under intense US pressure to keep a British citizen and several others under detention despite his acquittal by the country’s highest court.

Umar Saeed Sheikh was sentenced to death by a trial court in 2002 for playing a role in the murder of Danial Pearl, an American journalist working for Wall Street Journal in mega city of Karachi.

Umar was first acquitted in April last year by a High Court over lack of evidence against him. Last week the Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld the High Court verdict which attracted an unprecedented reaction by the White House.

Despite his acquittal by two superior courts one after the other, authorities have been keeping Pakistani descent British citizen under detention in a controversial manner.

Attorney General of Pakistan Khalid Jawed warned the Supreme Court that Pakistan could face "tremendous global implications, a grave emergency and serious consequences” if the Supreme Court sets Omar free. Therefore, he appealed to the court to look more into political implications of this high profile case and less constitutional and legal rights of Umar Saeed after his acquittal.

After his warning, the Supreme Court in another verdict has ordered to relocate Umar Saeed from jail to a government managed residential compound with limited access to only his family members.

Despite his acquittal, Omar has already spent almost an average life imprisonment term in the jail. Nonetheless, Washington has demanded Pakistan to hand Omar over to the US for yet another round of his prosecution on so far unproven allegations of murder.

As many as 130 journalists have been killed in Pakistan since the murder of Daniel Pearl. None of the killer of any Pakistani journalist was ever jailed or punished and even in most the cases, a proper prosecution did not happen, a glaring discrimination which is a lingering source of resentment of journalist community in Pakistan.

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