Chinese authorities say Beijing paying close attention to Kashmir situation

Prime Minister Imran Khan leads the Pakistani side during the delegation level talks in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Oct. 9, 2019. (PID)
Updated 09 October 2019

Chinese authorities say Beijing paying close attention to Kashmir situation

  • As Prime Minister Khan concludes his visit, the two countries praise bilateral defense cooperation, agree to strengthen it further
  • The second CPEC phase will promote industrial and socio-economic development in Pakistan, says joint statement

ISLAMABAD: China is paying close attention to the situation in Kashmir and wants a peaceful resolution of the dispute between the two South Asian nuclear-armed nations, said a Pakistan-China joint press statement on Wednesday while providing details of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s two-day visit to Beijing.
The Pakistani leader left for Islamabad after concluding his visit to China where he was invited by his counterpart Li Keqiang. During his stay in Beijing, the prime minister also met President Xi Jinping and interacted with Chinese business community.
According to the joint statement, leaders of the two countries agreed “that a peaceful, stable, cooperative and prosperous South Asia was in the common interest of all parties.”
“Parties need to settle disputes and issues in the region through dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect,” it added.
The Pakistani delegation also underscored that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a transformational project. The two countries agreed that the second CPEC phase would promote industrial and socio-economic development in the South Asian state.
Pakistani officials told the Chinese authorities that the Gwadar Port had been given various facilities since the government wanted to make it the region’s trade and logistical hub.
The two sides also expressed determination to speedily execute CPEC projects to make the corridor a high-quality demonstration for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
China and Pakistan also reviewed the “excellent” bilateral defense cooperation and agreed to strengthen it further “in the areas of military exercises, training cooperation, personnel exchanges, and equipment and technology cooperation.”
The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and called on all countries to strengthen international cooperation on counterterrorism.
China appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and sacrifices in countering terrorism, asking “the international community to objectively recognize Pakistan’s contributions to regional peace and security through its success in fight against terrorism.”
The two sides also underlined that educational links between them were becoming stronger.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked Chinese leadership for providing opportunities to Pakistani students to study in China. He hoped that those students will play an important role in further deepening historic and deep-rooted ties between the two iron brothers,” the statement added.

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.