US orders staff out of Pakistan

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2002 05:31:11 -0000

 Attack on Islamabad church
Two Americans died in Sunday's church attack

The United States has ordered all non-essential diplomatic staff and
their families to leave Pakistan. 

The US State Department has become increasingly concerned for the safety
of its citizens following the recent killings of three US nationals in

Last Sunday two Americans were killed in an attack on a church in the
capital, Islamabad. 

And US journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Karachi in January and
later beheaded. 

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has pledged to wipe out extremism
in Pakistan. 

But a spate of sectarian attacks has contributed to criticism that his
policy is not working. 

Embassy stays open 

The BBC's Paul Reynolds in Washington says the move has had to be
handled delicately as Washington does not want to declare that Mr
Musharraf, its new ally in the war on terrorism, is incapable of
protecting diplomatic staff. 

"We will be identifying non-emergency personnel and dependents and they
will then make arrangements for the departure of those people
expeditiously," Phil Reeker, a State Department spokesman, told

 Sheikh Omar
Prosecutors fear Sheikh Omar will use the trial to propagate extremist

"However, our embassy and consulates will remain open." 

"We believe the war against terrorism in Pakistan is far from over and
that we will be able to carry it on with greater focus if our dependents
are not present in US facilities there," Reuters news agency reports Mr
Reeker as saying. 

The decision comes only hours after four men were charged in the city of
Karachi with the murder of Mr Pearl. 

British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the key suspect, was charged along
with 10 alleged accomplices, seven of whom have still to be apprehended.

The trial is scheduled to begin in Karachi next week, and all the
suspects could face the death penalty if found guilty. 


A lawyer for three of the accused said he hoped his clients would be
extradited to America to face trial, where sentences could be lighter if
they confessed to lesser charges under the US judicial system. 

 Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl
Investigators are still looking for Pearl's body

Two other suspects said to be linked to the e-mails claiming
responsibility for the kidnapping - Fahad Naseem and Salman Saqib - have
already appeared before a judge and were remanded to jail. 

Police officers are continuing to search for seven more men who were
charged in their absence. 

Key testimony 

The chief prosecutor, Raja Quereshi, said he would be calling 31
witnesses, including officials from the US Federal Bureau of

Mr Pearl's wife said she would not oppose the death penalty if the
suspects were found guilty. 

A US federal grand jury has indicted Omar Sheikh and Washington wants to
extradite him to face charges in the US, but Pakistan has said it will
not consider such a move until its own investigations are concluded. 


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