No progress made in US reporter’s case: police
ISLAMABAD- Police said on Friday they were no closer to finding kidnapped US reporter Daniel Pearl whose captors have threatened to kill him unless the United States releases Pakistani prisoners from the Afghan war.
The group claiming to have kidnapped Pearl has given the Unites States 24 hours to meet the demands or Pearl would be killed. The previously unknown National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty extended that deadline by a day on Thursday.
Pakistan’s top spokesman said there had been some progress and repeated there was evidence showing an Indian link to the kidnapping. New Delhi has dismissed the allegation as “ridiculous”.
“The investigation is still going on and we are putting in our best efforts. We are taking every lead into the account, but things have not yet moved much from yesterday,” a senior police official in Karachi told Reuters. “Based on the progress that we have made so far, we are hopeful that we will be able to trace him,” he said.
Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl, 38, disappeared in Karachi nine days ago as he worked on a story about alleged shoe-bomber Richard Reid and tried to contact radical Islamic groups.
A group claiming to hold Pearl, on Thursday sent an email to various Western and Pakistani media organizations. “We give U 1 one more day. If America will not meet our demands we will kill Daniel,” said the message. “Don’t think this will be the end, it is the beginning and it is a real war on Amrikans. Amrikans will get the taste of death and destructions what we had got in Afg and Pak,” the message said.
INDIAN LINK?: Major-General Rashid Qureshi, top spokesman for President Pervez Musharraf, when asked about his allegation of an Indian link to the case, said: “I’m absolutely sure, I wouldn’t have said it if there hadn’t been evidence.”
In New York, Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger issued an open letter to the kidnap group.
“Danny Pearl’s wife and I are thankful for the additional time,” Steiger wrote. “I also hope that you and we can use that time to start a true dialogue.”
The letter went on to say: “Journalists are, by definition, trained messengers. Danny can be your messenger. A freed Danny can explain your cause, and your beliefs, to the world”.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell said the government was doing all it could to locate and rescue Pearl but added that there would be no negotiations over his captor’s demands.
WITNESS DIES: Police say they are taking the death threat seriously and were questioning the leader of a radical Islamic group suspected of involvement in the abduction. But a key witness, a man named Arif whom police believe had helped Pearl set up meetings, was believed to have died, police said.
Police raided Arif’s house, only to find relatives praying for the dead man, but there was no sign of a body. The cause and circumstances of Arif’s death were not known.
In an email late on Wednesday, the kidnap group also gave US journalists in Pakistan three days to leave the country or risk being targeted. The emails have contained photographs, including some showing Pearl with his wrists chained and a pistol pointed at his head.