Abduction may cast dark shadow on Musharraf visit to US -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Abduction may cast dark shadow on Musharraf visit to US

WASHINGTON- The Wall Street Journal said on Saturday that it believed its correspondent Daniel Pearl is still alive. With daily twists given to the story by its alleged kidnappers, the abduction is steadily building into a major crisis amid media hype threatening to cast a dark shadow on the upcoming visit by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf next week. US and international journalists as also officials and human rights outfits have expressed grave concern about the safety of Daniel Pearle.

US officials, including Secretary of state, Colin Powell, have expressed confidence that Gen. Musharraf was making an all out efforts to secure Pearle’s release. But they are worried that if the matter prolongs till the arrival of Gen. Musharraf in Washington on Feb 12, the visit would be extremely compromised.

The Wall Street Journal Saturday said that based on reports from Pakistan, it believes that both of the messages received on Friday about Danny were false. ” We continue to believe that Danny is alive,” the newspaper said in a statement.

The fate of Pearl, missing since last week was unclear after one message said he had been killed, but another demanded the release of a top Taliban prisoner and $2 million. Secretary Powell Thursday refused to accept any demand and called for unconditional release.

Wall Street Journal (WSJ) urged the kidnapper to release Danny. ” If that is not possible, we call on them to demonstrate that Danny remains alive. They can do this by providing us with a photo of Danny holding today’s newspaper. We remain eager to continue communication that will lead to Danny’s release,” said the statement by managing editor Paul Steiger.

Meanwhile a leading US channel, the NBC, has decided to pull back advertisement promoting next week’s episode of the network’s hit drama “The West Wing,” in which an American reporter is kidnapped. The decision was taken after viewers pointed out the disturbing resemblance to the plight of Daniel Pearl,

“It could seem distasteful,” said John Miller, president of the network’s in-house advertising firm. “We hadn’t made the connection to Pearl until it aired last Wednesday and people called in and said, `do you realise that what’s on “West Wing” is happening in real life.’ ”

Miller said that the promotion had been broadcast only once and that his department produced a new spot on Thursday that will begin airing next week. It focuses on a different angle of the plot. “If Pearl is released safely we might go back to the first trailer,” Miller noted. “But as long as he is in jeopardy, it seemed inappropriate.”
The show, written last December, foreshadows the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl, The Wall Street Journal correspondent who was seized in Pakistan late last month and has been held for nine days. Tonight, there were conflicting reports about whether he had been killed.

There are no plans to replace the West Wing episode, which features a White House correspondent who is kidnapped during an ambush by rebels while on assignment in Congo. Aaron Sorkin, the show’s creator and chief writer, said the kidnapping is “not a big part of the episode,” and that he wrote it to dramatise the warfare going unheeded in Congo.

Source: The Nation
Date:2/3/2002