Kabul [Afghanistan], February 12 (ANI): The acquittal of journalist Daniel Pearl's murderer, the terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh, by the Supreme Court of Pakistan reflects that Islamabad is "a truly terrorist-sponsor state."
According to an opinion article by Ghafoor Ahmad, in the Afghanistan Times, the acquittal "is a grave travesty of justice and a clear pointer to how the Pakistan Army has subverted even the highest judiciary to protect its terrorist proteges."
Ghafoor wrote that Sheikh is not the first terrorist to be set free by Pakistani courts. "Lashkar-e-Taiba chief and a designated global terrorist, Hafiz Saeed, has been released on several occasions by the high courts for want of evidence. In not one case, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had found it urgent and necessary to take note of such disregard for rule of law, an indication of how the top judiciary for long been serving the interests of the army," the author wrote.
"Sheikh's acquittal shows to what lengths can the army go to protect its agents of violence and betrays the sham Pakistan's entire judicial system has become," he added.
The author wrote that the acquittal by Pakistan's top court raises serious questions about Pakistan's recent "hasty moves" to prosecute Hafiz Saeed and other terrorist leaders in terrorist financing cases to comply with FATF conditions.
The global anti-terrorist financing body, which has put Pakistan in the grey list, is set to hold its next meeting in February this year.
"Sheikh's acquittal has exposed Pakistan's claims of taking actions as per the FATF directions. Pakistan's compliance report, yet to be submitted to FATF, has lost any legitimacy it might have had. There is little Pakistan can do to avoid the possible blacklisting," the author stated.
The author said that Washington -- under the leadership of President Joe Biden -- should take note of Pakistan's "persistent mockery of international concerns and conventions on prosecuting terrorists."
"Daniel Pearl was an American citizen and its brutal assassination should not go unpunished. No less grave is the unassailable reality of Pakistan proving itself to be a truly terrorist-sponsor state," Ghafoor added.
A three-judge SC bench, headed by Justice Mushir Alam, directed to release the prime accused in Daniel Pearl murder case.
The top court dismissed the Sindh government's appeal against the Sindh High Court's (SHC) decision to overturn the conviction of Sheikh for killing the journalist.
In 2002, Pearl, the 38-year-old journalist of The Wall Street Journal's South Asia bureau, was abducted and beheaded while he was in Pakistan to investigate a story of terror groups' links to Al-Qaeda.
In December last year, the SHC directed to release Sheikh, Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil and Salman Saqib.
According to Daily Pakistan, the SHC also ordered putting the names of accused Sheikh and others in the exit control list (ECL).
The provincial government had approached the top court against the order of the SHC overturning the conviction of Sheikh.
In April 2020, the SHC had overturned the death sentence of Sheikh and sentenced him to seven years in prison and acquitted three other accused -- Fahad Naseem, Sheikh Adil and Salman Saqib -- who were earlier sentenced to life imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court (ATC). The accused have been in jail for the last 18 years and ordered the accused to appear as and when the court summons them.
The United States had expressed deep concerns over the SHC ruling to release multiple terrorists responsible for the murder of Pearl. (ANI)