Islamabad, Feb 2: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday ordered immediate release of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime accused in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl, from his death cell, notifying authorities to move him to a government rest house within two days.
The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed by the Sindh provincial government, appealing against the Sindh High Court (SHC) decision of December 24 to release the prime accused Omar Saeed Sheikh.
As per the court’s order, authorities have been told to keep Sheikh at a better location in the jail in an open room for two days before being transferred to the government rest house.
The court has also ordered to ensure deployment of security around the rest house. However, the court has not allowed Sheikh to have access to a mobile phone or internet facility.
The court has allowed the family of Sheikh to stay with him at the rest house from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Sheikh should not have access to the outside world from the rest house. He should be allowed to spend the ‘Kashmir Day’ with his family members”, read the court’s order.
The decision came after Pakistan’s top court again rejected the government’s appeal to suspend the SHC’s verdict on the acquittal of the accused, stating that the federal government could file an appeal against the SHC’s decision.
“How can the federal government object to the decision of the Sindh High Court?” questioned the Sindh Advocate General.
However, the judges maintained “Ahmed Omar Sheikh and other detainees cannot be called as accused”.
The case of Daniel Pearl’s murder has become a testing assessment for Pakistan as the United States has raised serious reservations on the court’s decision to acquit the suspects and later to retain the SHC’s decision by Pakistan’s top court.
The US has already shared its serious concerns over the legal proceedings in the case with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi through a telephone conversation.
The US has also stated that it is ready to bring Sheikh to the US and put him to trial in the US courts, hinting at its distrust over the legal proceedings of the case in Pakistan.
Qureshi, however, has maintained that the case is being taken forward as per the legal justice system of Pakistan.
Analysts on the other hand, have criticised the Pakistan government for not rejecting the US’ call of extradition of the accused from Pakistan and the trial to be held in US courts.
“How can the US question the legal system of Pakistan and decisions being taken by the top court? Why should Sheikh be sent to the US for trial? Pakistan has its own law of the land and it should tell the US in clear words that the country’s legal system will take its course,” said security and defence analyst Lt General Retd Amjad Shoaib.