Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said that the United States government's apprehensions on the Sindh High Court's decision to acquit four people earlier convicted in the kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl were only "natural", adding that the decision will be challenged in the apex court.
The SHC had on Thursday acquitted the four, including prime suspect Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death in 2002 for masterminding Pearl's murder. The other three had been sentenced to life.
However hours after the verdict, the Sindh Home Department issued an order late Thursday night to arrest and 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's verdict however did not sit well with the United States, with the State Department condemning 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.
Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl, 38, was investigating militants in Karachi after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was kidnapped in January 2002. He was beheaded weeks later.
Foreign Minister Qureshi reiterated on Friday that the Sindh government would appeal the decision.
"Yesterday, the Sindh government had ordered the detention of the four suspects for 90 days under the Public Safety Act," Qureshi said, while adding that the decision to appeal the high court decision had already been taken.
"The forum of appeal exists, we are going to use it and then see if higher courts decide to keep the SHC's decision intact or set it aside," Qureshi said.