Musharraf ‘reasonably sure’ US reporter alive
WASHINGTON- Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday he was “reasonably sure” kidnapped US reporter Daniel Pearl was alive and held out hope he would be quickly released.
“I am reasonably sure he is alive,” Musharraf told reporters after an Oval Office meeting with US President George W. Bush, who asked Islamabad to make Pearl’s case a top priority.
“We are as close as possible to getting him released,” Musharraf added, citing “the combined efforts of all the intelligence agencies in Pakistan” involved in the investigation.
Before he disappeared, The Wall Street Journal reporter was trying to contact extremist groups and was working on a story about possible links between alleged shoe bomber Briton Richard Reid and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network.
Hopes were high that Pearl’s release would coincide with Musharraf’s meeting with Bush.
On Tuesday, Pakistani police announced the arrest of their prime suspect in the case, British-born extremist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and said he had told them Pearl was still alive and in the southern port city of Karachi.
But police said Sheikh Omar, as he is commonly known, had not given police much information.
At a joint press conference with Musharraf, Bush praised Islamabad’s efforts to find the missing reporter.
“We spent a time today in the Oval Office talking about our mutual desire to see that Mr Pearl is returned home safely,” Bush said.
Sheikh Omar was jailed in India in 1994 for allegedly kidnapping four tourists there – three Britons and an American.
He was freed, along with two other prominent extremists, in 1999 in exchange for 155 hostages on an Indian airliner hijacked to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
Pearl’s wife, who is six months pregnant with their first child, has made public appeals for her husband to be freed.
Source: Business Recorder