US concerns natural, will challenge acquittal of Daniel Pearl murder convicts: Qureshi

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Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Saturday that the apprehensions expressed by the US goverment over acquittal of four people convicted in killing of Amerian journalist Daniel Pearl were “natural”.

He added that the decision will be challenged in the country’s Supreme Court.

“Pakistan has made many sacrifices in the fight against terrorism,” the FM stressed, adding, “The entire nation fought a long war against terrorism and defeated this menace with collective efforts.”

Qureshi further said that the accused had right to appeal and the Sindh High Court, while acknowledging this right, suspended the life sentence given to three accused – Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil – and commuted prime accused Sheikh Omar’s capital punishment to seven-year imprisonment.

However, hours after the verdict, the Sindh Home department issued orders to detain the four before they were released from prison, citing sufficient reason to believe that these men may act “against the interest of the country”.

“Yesterday, the Sindh government had ordered the detention of the four suspects for 90 days under the Public Safety Act,” Qureshi said.

The US State Department had earlier condemned the overturning of the convictions and terming the decision “an affront to victims of terrorism everywhere”.

“Those responsible for Daniel’s heinous kidnapping and murder must face the full measure of justice,” senior US diplomat Alice Wells wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

On Friday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior had said that the government of Sindh will file an appeal next week against the judgment in the Supreme Court.

“The government of Pakistan has asked the Sindh government to dedicate its best resources in the pursuance of appeal before the Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan,” it said, adding that the provincial government was advised to consult Attorney General for Pakistan in the matter.

Pearl, the 38-year-old South Asia bureau chief of Wall Street Journal, was abducted and beheaded while he was in Pakistan investigating a story on the alleged links between the country’s powerful spy agency ISI and al-Qaeda.

Sheikh, who was the mastermind behind abduction and killing of Pearl, was arrested from Lahore in February 2002 and sentenced to death five months later by an anti-terrorism court.

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