Wednesday, Feb 27, 2002
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlin, today called on the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, and expressed the desire of the U.S. for extradition of Omar Sheikh and three others who are currently under detention by the Pakistan police in connection with the Pearl murder.
In her meeting with Gen. Musharraf, Ms Chamberlin profusely thanked him for all the cooperation in tracing the culprits behind the dastardly killing but "encouraged further movement in the case".
The state-run Pakistan Television in its report on the meeting did not refer to the extradition issue. It said that both of them discussed the India-Pakistan tensions and emphasised the need for an immediate de-escalation.
The diplomatically couched demand of the U.S. for extradition of all the suspects in the Pearl case could prove be an embarrassment for Gen. Musharraf domestically as the Government critics have already stepped up the attack for failure to protect Pearl's life.
The Anti-Terrorism Court judge in Karachi on Monday extended the remand of Omar Sheikh and his associates for another two weeks after the investigators submitted that they needed him for some more time to recover the body of Pearl and the weapons used to kill him.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan English daily, The News has reported that some of the Pakistan officials probing the case received death threats asking them to stop the investigations or face the consequences.
It said that police received the first threatening call the day before Pearl's kidnappers handed over the videocassette depicting the last moments of Pearl. The threatening call was made from Pearl's mobile phone.
Subsequent threatening calls were received after the police received the videotape on February 22. According to the report, the callers had indicated that Pearl has been killed on February 20 and not before as claimed by the prime suspect, Omar Sheikh, who surrendered to police on February 5.
It said the Pakistani and U.S. investigators, who were jointly probing the murder, however. believed that Pearl was probably killed on Janaury 30, the deadline set by his abductors to release him in response to their demands to set free the Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Pearl was kidnapped on Jan 23.
``There is not a single shot in the video showing Pearl being killed,'' one police official said. He said when Pearl was forced to say on camera that his father and mother were Jews and he was a Jew, it might be around January 27, four days after his kidnapping.
``There is no confusion in the investigators' mind that Pearl was killed some time after he was forced to make the statement about his Jewish background,'' the newspaper quoted an investigator as saying.
Some Pakistani police officials are privately speculating that Danny might have been gunned down while making an attempt to escape from captivity and the decision to decapitate his body could have been an afterthought on the part of his killers, the report said.
Some investigators are now more inclined to believe Sheikh on the ground that the video contained disjointed shots of a haggard Daniel making statement about his religious beliefs. These shots were cut into a scene where even the butcher-like deep cut of the knife could not wake Daniel up from his deep sleep.
``When the knife sliced his neck, Daniel was no more a living person,'' a source observed.
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