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    Omar Shaikh's conviction

    Interesting view from BB on Omar Sheikh's conviction

    Omar Shaikh's conviction


    A Pakistani court last week sentenced British born Islamic militant Omar Shaikh to death for the kidnapping and brutal murder of an American journalist.

    Few doubted Omar's guilt. According to journalists covering Omar's first court appearance, the 27 year old militant confessed he did the kidnapping and that Danny Pearl, the reporter, was dead. This was before the video documenting the brutal slaying was released. Yet Omar's crucial confession that February morning was not judicially recorded. The prosecution was unable to use it as evidence against him. By the time the trial started, Omar retracted, claiming he had nothing to do with the murder of Danny Pearl, the Wall Street Journalist whose brutal slaying shook the country.

    Before Omar's arrest in the Danny Pearl incident, an extradition request was already on Pervez Musharraf's table. The United States wanted Omar for trial in the kidnapping and murder of American tourists in Kashmir in 1994. New Delhi too made an extradition request to Islamabad for the militant released from its prisons following the hijack of an Indian airliner. General Musharraf chose to try Omar instead.

    Ironically, even as Islamabad's military government tried Omar, it failed to try him. The trial court was riddled with inconsistencies that make an appeal to the superior courts probable on the basis of record.

    Under Pakistan's judicial system, the complainant in the case (the widow) must make an appearance before the court to lodge the complaint. Mrs. Pearl was absent. A Commission was not set up to record her complaint in Paris.

    Under Pakistan's law, a dead body must be found to start a murder trial. Although a graphic video of the brutal slaying is available, the dead body of Mr. Pearl is yet to be recovered. Under current judicial procedures, Omar cannot be charged for the killing of a person whose body is yet to be recovered.

    The crucial evidence linking Omar to the crime is the testimony of the Taxi driver who took Pearl to a Karachi restaurant when he was last seen alive. The taxi driver's evidence is uncorroborated. He admits it was dark thus opening the possibility of wrong recognition.

    That the trial was held in camera and thrice the presiding judges were changed makes the proceedings more doubtful. The one substantive link of Omar to the Pearl murder is his own confession. But that was never recorded. As far as the trial court record is concerned, it can either make a martyr of Omar or lead to his release once the case goes through the appeal process.
    Omar's fate lies less in the judicial field and more in the political. Its a case of those who want him dead and those who want him alive.

    Pakistan's President publicly declared, "I want the death sentence for Omar Sheikh". And perhaps he does. Omar knows too much about militants and militancy and their ties to military hardliners. His extradition, and revelations, could help Islamabad clean up its own overly politicised military institutions. But that's clearly not on Musharraf's agenda as he rides with the hounds and runs with the hares.

    Pearl was kidnapped when investigating links of the shoe bomber Reid to a closed down shoe factory in Karachi. His kidnapping was uncovered with the support of the Federal Bureau of Investigation rather than the authorities under the military regime. The FBI traced the email messages announcing the Pearl kidnapping to an internet cafe. The arrest of its personnel led to other arrests.

    Omar himself was never arrested. He turned himself in to a friend, an old intelligence hand. The home secretary also happens to be a close Musharraf friend. Both kept Omar's arrest a secret from police investigators. And while Omar was in secret custody, the Musharraf regime claimed India did the kidnapping. As the pressure for Omar's arrest grew, the regime claimed it covered up the arrest (which until then was sanctuary) to exploit during Musharraf's visit to Washington.

    General Musharraf trained as a commando. He can be genial unless angered. Then he speaks without thinking, rushing into the fire. It was one such occasion when he revealed his mind on the Pearl kidnapping. In an angry outburst, Musharraf claimed that Pearl tripped on "intelligence games" because he was "over inquisitive" which led to his kidnapping. This was skating on thin ice.

    Omar's country of citizenship, Britain, wants him alive. It says that it opposes the death sentence. Britain knows that Omar is a gold mine of information on British and foreign personnel who joined up with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Moreover, the 1994 kidnappings of tourists in Kashmir included British citizens. Britain clearly has an interest in a living Omar revealing the details.

    Upon hearing the death sentence pronounced by the court, Omar stated that he would "see who dies first", himself or those who sentenced him. Meanwhile a Commander Changez sent a threatening letter to Jail staff ordering them to behave properly with Omar or face reprisals.

    Pakistan's stock exchange declined as markets reacted to the news of the death sentence. In the short term, the Omar sentencing gives hardliners a rallying point to galvanise supporters for greater activity in what is called "a decisive battle between Islam and the Infidels".

    Significantly, Omar's death sentence was pronounced by the Pakistani court on Monday, just two days after militants staged yet another attack in the disputed Kashmir valley killing twenty eight civilians. And prior to the militant attack, the Pakistan army announced a ten day war game exercise.

    The synchronisation of events between pressure on militants and tension with New Delhi is interesting. Last winter's bombing of Tora Bora (where Al Qaeda leader Bin Laden was allegedly injured with shrapnel wounds) was diverted by the Indian Parliament attack. This spring's offensive against Al Qaeda remnants in Pakistan's untamed tribal region was diverted by an attack on an Indian army base housing families of soldiers.

    As Omar's appeal process gets under way, the developments on the frontier, where one million Pakistani and Indian troops are on war alert following the December Indian Parliament bombing, will be interesting.
    The Punjab Home secretary was Ejaz Shah, formerly chief of ISI's activities in Punjab. Omar has written in his diaries aboput his ISI handler "Shah Sahab"...

    #2
    Originally posted by Talwar:
    Interesting view from BB on Omar Sheikh's conviction

    Omar Shaikh's conviction


    The Punjab Home secretary was Ejaz Shah, formerly chief of ISI's activities in Punjab. Omar has written in his diaries aboput his ISI handler "Shah Sahab"...
    And the Bush folks had dealings with the Bin laden folks..so? big deal times change, people change, circumstances change.
    The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.

    Comment


      #3
      BB is very anal. She can make a better contribution by writing something about other pressing issues of the day than to moan and cry about how bad the Army is. It gets tiring and boring to read stuff like that after a while. I just returned from Pakistan and there is a huge debate about freedom of the Judiciary taking place (I attended the demonstration organized by the supreme court bar in Lahore about two weeks ago). An average Pakistani is as much concerned about Omar Shiekh (or Osama, or Bush, or Jacksith, or whathaveyou) as he is about Enron scandal. What Pakistanis are longing and dying for is the rule of Law, two meals a day for their families, decent healthcare, and easily and cheaply available medication for the sick. It was heartbreaking to find out that some the life saving drugs are not available in Pakistan and only the influential and the rich can get these drugs imported from England and other places. Omar Shiekh can go to hell along with BB.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by NYAhmadi:
        BB is very anal. She can make a better contribution by writing something about other pressing issues of the day than to moan and cry about how bad the Army is. It gets tiring and boring to read stuff like that after a while. I just returned from Pakistan and there is a huge debate about freedom of the Judiciary taking place (I attended the demonstration organized by the supreme court bar in Lahore about two weeks ago). An average Pakistani is as much concerned about Omar Shiekh (or Osama, or Bush, or Jacksith, or whathaveyou) as he is about Enron scandal. What Pakistanis are longing and dying for is the rule of Law, two meals a day for their families, decent healthcare, and easily and cheaply available medication for the sick. It was heartbreaking to find out that some the life saving drugs are not available in Pakistan and only the influential and the rich can get these drugs imported from England and other places. Omar Shiekh can go to hell along with BB.

        Well Said NYA

        Welcome Back To America

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