it sucks POLICE IN Karachi told NBC News that Saeed's arrest was a "major breakthrough" and that he disclosed Pearl was still alive during an initial interrogation. Separately, Jamil Yousuf, head of a citizen-police liaison committee, quoted Saeed as saying of Pearl, "He's alive. He's OK." However, NBC's Robert Wind rem reported that while the United States believes Saeed "played a central role in the kidnapping," officials are not sure whether he knows the whereabouts of the reporter. Saeed, a British-born Islamic militant, was arrested Tuesday afternoon in the eastern city of Lahore and sent to Karachi for questioning, ministry secretary Tas neem Noorani told The Associated Press.

Saeed's arrest was announced one day before Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is to meet President Bush in Washington. The kidnapping embarrassed the Musharraf government, which is seeking U. S. aid as it attempts to combat Muslim extremism in this predominantly Islamic country of 147 million people. Relations between the United States and Pakistan have warmed up significantly since the Islamabad government agreed to support the U.

S. war on terrorism in Afghanistan, where Pakistan had been a staunch supporter of the hard-line Taliban regime. Advertisement RELEASED AFTER HIJACKING Saeed, a 27-year-old British born Islamic militant, was freed from an Indian jail in December 1999 in exchange for passengers of an Indian Airlines jet which was hijacked on a domestic flight to Kandahar, Afghanistan. The son of a clothes merchant from Winstead in east London, Saeed studied at the London School of Economics. Lonnie Kelley, spokesman for the U.

S. Consulate in Karachi, said they had no word on Pearl's fate and were trying to confirm that Saeed has been arrested." We are looking into it, but nothing on Daniel yet," he said. Steve Goldstein, a vice president and spokesman for Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal's parent company, declined to comment on whether the arrest revealed new information about Pearl's abduction. "We continue to remain hopeful," Goldstein said in a telephone interview.

He also declined to comment on specifics of the case. NOT A CAR CHASE A team of police officers from the southern province of Sindh had been in Lahore searching for Saeed for the last few days, the government-run news agency Associated Press of Pakistan reported Tuesday. Police did not reveal the circumstances of Omar's arrest, but said they had been rounding up his associates and raiding their houses in recent days." The police were putting pressure on his contacts," the Interior Ministry's Noorani told Reuters. "He was picked up at 3 p.

m. (5 a. m. ET), he's being interrogated and he is in the process of being taken to Karachi where he will be further interrogated."It wasn't a car chase or anything, he was arrested quite peacefully," Noorani added later. "The chief suspect is with us and we " re hopeful that will lead to the solution of the case.".