Worst fears confirmed
PESHAWAR- Exactly a month after his abduction, our worst fears have been confirmed with the announcement that Daniel Pearl is dead. It was tragic news on the eve of Eidul Azha, one of our major religious festivals. The tragedy was compounded by the fact that Pearl was young and was to become a father in a few months time. His wife, Marianne, would now have to carry the burden of her seven-month old child without support from her loving husband.
Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping was senseless. The kidnappers should have known that the US government would never accept their demands. The world’s most powerful country wasn’t going to release Pakistanis held at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre at a time when the US was trying to send the message that it was willing to take casualties in an effort to restore America’s wounded pride in the wake of September 11.
There was also no hope that the US would free former Taliban ambassador Mulla Abdul Salam Zaef. In fact, Zaef’s family distanced itself from the kidnappers to make this demand look meaningless and to tell the world that it disagreed with tactics that harmed innocent people. It was a telling statement by a diplomat’s family who had been wronged by Pakistani and US governments.
Making a journalist a pawn in international politics was an unwise and misguided idea. A journalist doesn’t represent or speak for a government. Daniel Pearl, as far as we know, did an honest job as a reporter. He wasn’t anybody’s agent, neither of CIA nor Mossad as his ignorant kidnappers claimed. He was the South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal and that’s it.
The kidnappers, Islamist or otherwise, haven’t achieved anything. Rather they have lost whatever sympathy they may have had for their cause. Imagine the bad press that the Islamic groups got after Pearl’s kidnapping, and now murder. Journalists and writers all over the world would remember Pearl, especially the image in which a kidnapper is holding a pistol to his head, whenever they write about Islamic organisations. It is always going to be difficult for them to be objective in their future writings.
Pakistan too has come out bruised and battered from this tragic experience. Commentators have a habit of using pet and standard sentences while describing a place or a person. Pakistan didn’t have a good image in the past but we should now be prepared to listen to and read adjectives such as “lawless Karachi” and “unstable Pakistan” more frequently.
Though journalists worldwide are grieved by the violent death of their American colleague, it won’t stop them from pursuing the truth. And it shouldn’t scare them away from Pakistan or Afghanistan. Some of the world’s greatest stories originate from this region and it would be a pity if they weren’t covered fully and comprehensively. We owe it to our viewers, listeners and readers to inform them as to how the people in Pakistan and Afghanistan are suffering at the hands of not only religious extremists but also people in uniform, warlords and foreign troops claiming to fight terrorists.
Source: The News