Bush wants extradition of Omar, others
WASHINGTON- President George W.Bush has added his voice to the demands that Omar Saeed Shaikh and others accused of kidnap, and murder of Daniel Pearl should be extradited by Pakistan, and brought to the United States for trial.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said on Monday that the US would “very much like to get our hands on Omar Sheikh and the others.”
Mr Bush was asked by reporters whether he wanted the Pearl case suspects to be handed over to the US. He said: “Yes, we’re always interested in dealing with people who have harmed American citizens.”
He also said that he was satisfied with the response of President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistan government in the murdered journalist’s case.
Mr Bush referred to a telephone call from Gen Musharraf when he (Bush) was flying back from China, and said he could tell from the tone of the general’s voice “how distraught he was, and how disturbed he was that this barbaric act had taken place in his country. He knew full well that those killers did not represent the vast, vast majority of the people in his own country. And he vowed to me on the phone that he would do everything in his power to chase down the killers and bring them to justice”.
The extradition will be sought on the basis of a treaty entered into between the US and the then British India government in 1931 that went into effect in 1942.
Washington contends that Pakistan as a successor government is bound by that treaty. However, in trying to explain this position at his daily briefing on Monday afternoon, Mr Fleischer rather tied himself up in knots, at one point saying the treaty “was with Pakistan which was under British rule”.
Some of the questions and answers on this subject went as follows:
Fleischer: …….it’s interesting to note that the lawyers say that the treaty does remain in effect, even though it was signed with the predecessor of the Pakistani government.
Q: How can that be? There was no Pakistan in 1942.
Fleischer: It’s an interesting question,…. but that’s the lawyers’ point, they do believe it remains in effect even though it was.
Q: The treaty was with the British?
A: The treaty was with Pakistan, which was under British rule.
Q: But there wasn’t any Pakistan, as such.
A: It was with the Pakistani authorities under British rule. So I think probably.