Why we are seeking justice for our son, Daniel Pearl

Published May 6, 2020
"As parents, we know that, regardless of differences, parents everywhere want to raise their children in a safe society." — Dawn archives
"As parents, we know that, regardless of differences, parents everywhere want to raise their children in a safe society." — Dawn archives

Assalam-o-Alaikum and Ramazan Mubarak.

Eighteen years ago, in 2002, we lost our son, Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Karachi, Pakistan.

We still remember the day Daniel was born, in a hospital in Princeton, New Jersey. He was an unusually easy baby, always peaceful, self-assured and self-entertained, even in discomfort and stillness.

We raised Daniel to worship truth, honesty and friendship. He was friendly to all strangers. He didn’t know what a stranger was. For him, a stranger meant an opportunity to develop a new friendship based on mutual respect and trust. He grew up to be a journalist, committed to writing the truth and upholding principles of justice and humanity throughout his many journeys to the Middle East and Asia.

After the tragic events of September 11, Daniel went to Pakistan as a journalist with his wife, Mariane. There, in Islamabad, he learned he was going to have a son and chose to name his baby Adam, to symbolise the unity of mankind. But Daniel was never to see Adam.

Instead, while on professional duty as a journalist, reporting, he met a diabolical criminal named Omar Sheikh, who lured Daniel to Karachi in a complicated, cruel plot to kidnap him for ransom. With Daniel in captivity, Sheikh made all sorts of ransom demands, all under the threats of death. He wanted Pakistani prisoners freed from Guantanamo Bay. He wanted the delivery of F-16 fighter jets from the US to Pakistan.

Sheikh was helped in his criminal plot by three men — Fahad Nasim, Syed Salman Saqib and Sheikh Mu­­h­ammad Adil. Days after Daniel’s kidnapping, our son was brutally murde­red in cold blood — in front of a video camera that documented his death.

These four men are directly responsible for our son’s murder, and they were convicted in 2002 of their role in that inhumane, barbaric act.

Over these 18 long years, we have continued to believe that truth and justice will be upheld in Pakistan. However, in April this year, the Sindh High Court overturned the convictions and sentences of the four men convicted in Daniel’s murder, ruling that they should go free.

We strongly believe this decision is a travesty of justice and that it sends the wrong message to violent extremists and potential terrorists the world over. Therefore, we have filed an ap­­peal against the decision in the Hon­ourable Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Our intention is very simple: to make certain that the four men responsible for our son’s murder remain behind bars so that all Pakistanis and journalists are safe.

In losing Daniel, we found a new purpose for our lives. In our long personal journey of 18 years, we have built bridges with Pakistan by hosting Pakistani journalists in our home, sponsoring music concerts in Pakistan, initiating interfaith dialogues with Muslim colleagues in the US, and nurturing life-long friendships with those who share our values of peace, tolerance and humanity.

Today, we are standing up for justice — not only for our son, but also for all of our dear friends in Pakistan and around the world. The men behind Daniel’s murder represent an extremism that we must challenge, and the world is watching how the courts in Pakistan keep its citizens safe from terrorism and creates a future of peace.

As parents, we know that, regardless of differences, parents everywhere want to raise their children in a safe society, free of the violence and terror that took Daniel’s life.

Like our son, we believe in the values of peace, friendship and justice, and we want to do everything in our power to realise your hopes of keeping Pakistan safe for its citizens.

We hope that you will stand by us and support our appeal for all people of conscience. May justice and peace prevail among our people. Ameen.

Ruth and Judea Pearl are the parents of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was murdered in Karachi in 2002. They are cofounders of the Daniel Pearl Foundation.

Twitter: @YudaPearl

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2020

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