Islamabad, Dubai form committee to resolve problems of Pakistani prisoners

“For the first time ever we have decided to form a joint committee to resolve issues relating to prisons and imprisoned Pakistanis in #UAE,” Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari, special assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis said in a Twitter post. (Shutterstock)
Updated 29 January 2019

Islamabad, Dubai form committee to resolve problems of Pakistani prisoners

  • Committee aimed to ensure quick repatriation of Pakistanis who have completed jail sentences
  • 2,600 Pakistanis imprisoned in the U.A.E., according to Justice Project Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have decided to form a committee to streamline problems faced by Pakistani inmates in prisons in the Gulf country and ensure their quick repatriation, Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari, special assistant to the Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, said on Monday.
A delegation from Islamabad led by Bukhari has reportedly reached an understanding with Dubai police chief Maj. Gen. Abdullah Khalifa Al Mari to exchange prisoner information aimed at the quick repatriation of overseas Pakistanis who have completed jail sentences in the U.A.E., officials in Bukhari’s office, as well as the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, told Arab News, requesting anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media on the record. 
“For the first time ever we have decided to form a joint committee to resolve issues relating to prisons and imprisoned Pakistanis in #UAE,” Bukhari said in a Twitter post. 
Officials at the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis declined further details of Bukhari’s meetings, saying his trip would conclude by the end of the month and the outcome would then be shared publicly. The Foreign Office declined to comment. 
There are roughly 1.4 million Pakistanis in the U.A.E. According to the Justice Project Pakistan, some 2,600 Pakistanis are serving time in prison.
Muhammad Arshad Ali, a director at the Overseas Pakistani Foundation, declined to provide details of recent talks held between officials of the two countries but said Pakistan had been engaged in formalizing an agreement with the U.A.E. since October to provide support to nationals charged with petty crimes and misdemeanors.
“Those that have been convicted, we can not interfere in their legal process; only their (Dubai) courts can release prisoners,” Ali said. “But there are cases which require appeal or payment of fines and when officials meet on a state level, through negotiations, those fines are expunged or the (Pakistan) government pays on the prisoner’s behalf.”

Lawyer for Daniel Pearl's family faces uphill legal fight

Updated 15 January 2021

Lawyer for Daniel Pearl's family faces uphill legal fight

  • Faisal Siddiqi says overturning even the kidnapping for ransom charge will send Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh back to death row
  • Sheikh, who allegedly lured Pearl to his death, was acquitted in April due to insufficient evidence

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani lawyer for the family of slain American journalist Daniel Pearl faces an uphill battle to overturn the acquittal of a British-born man convicted in the 2002 murder.

That's because the prosecutor in the original case tried all four men — including Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man believed to have lured Pearl to his death — as one, with the same charges against all even though each played a different role.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Faisal Siddiqi, the lawyer for Pearl’s family, said that although the initial prosecution had painted the four defendants with the same brush, “You don’t, because of doubt in one or two or three pieces (of evidence), acquit them all.”

The four men were acquitted in April on the grounds that the initial prosecution’s evidence was insufficient. Siddiqi said his argument now before the Supreme Court, Pakistan's highest, is that conspiracy, kidnapping for ransom and murder deserve separate consideration.

Siddiqi said the Supreme Court hearing to overturn the acquittals will resume Tuesday, and most likely reach its conclusion before the end of January. Both the Pearl family as well as Pakistan’s government separately have appealed the acquittals.

Siddiqi said overturning even the kidnapping for ransom charge would send Sheikh back to death row, where he'd been since his conviction in 2002. He was transferred to a jail in the port city of Karachi in Sindh province, after the Sindh High Court overturned his conviction. The three others charged in Pearl's murder — Fahad Naseem, Adil Sheikh and Salman Saqib — were acquitted on all charges.

Sheikh was sentenced to death, and the other three to life in prison for their roles in Pearl's murder.

Siddiqi said he’s argued that the judges have a duty to both the accused and the victim, and while “no innocent person should be convicted ... no guilty person should be set free.”

The Pearl family’s lawyer said the overwhelming sentiment is “whenever there is a doubt, let us free the accused, never thinking what happened to the victim,” adding that he's asking the judges to “restore the balance between the accused and the victim.”

The acquittal outraged the United States, and last month the US warned it won’t allow Sheikh to escape justice. Acting US Attorney General Jeffery Rosen praised Pakistan for appealing the Sindh court’s order but said if “those efforts do not succeed, the United States stands ready to take custody of Omar Sheikh to stand trial” in America.

Sheikh remains in jail even as the Sindh High Court last month ordered him freed while the appeal is being heard. Sheikh's lawyer, Mehmood A. Sheikh, no relation, has taken the demand for his client's freedom to the Supreme Court. Until now it has not ruled on the release.

Siddiqi said the prosecutor in Sheikh's original trial was held under considerable duress caused by militant Islamists, who issued threats to the attorney general, and which even forced the court hearing to be held within the confines of the jail.

Sheikh was convicted of helping lure Pearl to a meeting in Karachi, where he was kidnapped. Pearl had been investigating the link between Pakistani militants and Richard C. Reid, dubbed the “Shoe Bomber” after trying to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoes.

A gruesome video of Pearl’s beheading was sent to the US Consulate. The 38-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter from Encino, California was abducted Jan. 23, 2002.