The decision of the Sindh High Court in early April to commute the death sentence of the main accused in the abduction and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 continues to cause ripples worldwide.
Daniel Pearl was the South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal. He was kidnapped and beheaded in Karachi in 2002, with his captors circulating footage of Daniel in captivity and his execution. The death sentence of prime accused, Ahmed Omar Sheikh, was commuted to seven years in jail. Three of his accomplices, who were serving life sentences, were freed.
The US government immediately criticised the court order. Last week, the parents of Daniel Pearl moved the Pakistan Supreme Court, seeking a reversal of the Sindh High Court order.
On Wednesday, Ruth and Judea Pearl, the parents of Daniel, wrote a joint article in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, appealing for justice for their son. The Pearl family is Jewish; one of the reasons given for Daniel being targeted by Islamic extremists was his religion.
His parents noted they had “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".
Ruth and Judea Pearl recounted the variety of demands Omar Sheikh had made when Daniel Pearl was in captivity. "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," they wrote in Dawn.
Ruth and Judea Pearl described the decision of the Sindh High Court to commute the sentences of Sheikh and others as "a travesty of justice and that it sends the wrong message to violent extremists and potential terrorists the world over".
Ruth and Judea Pearl noted, "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."