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March 2002

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EDITORIAL

 

THE SENSELESS MURDER
OF A JOURNALIST

South Asian Outlook e-Monthly expresses its shock and sorrow that the Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl, while carrying out his professional duties, was kidnapped, brutalised, terrorised and murdered in cold blood in Pakistan, despite appeals for his release from all over the world.

 

Was Daniel kidnapped and killed because he was a Westerner, an American, a reporter, a Jew or some combination of them all? Or was he killed to avenge the death of innocent people who were targets of the American bombers during its high-tech air campaign in Afghanistan? Or was he a victim of the Pakistan-militants, who are angry with General Musharaff, for withdrawing support to the Taleban, letting America use its facilities to launch attacks on Afghanistan and now for his announced decision to stop ISI support and funding of terrorists?

 

Daniel Pearl

1963-2002

Mr Pearl, 38, was born in Princeton, New Jersey and graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in communications.

He joined The Wall Street Journal in November 1990, initially as a reporter in the Atlanta bureau. Then in 1993 he moved to the Washington office to cover transportation before beginning a series of overseas postings

"The press is a vital watchdog, reporting acts of violence, revealing governmental abuse, etc. In wartime, the role of the press is particularly important. Were it not for brave journalists who bear witness, countries would be much more tempted to stray from internationally supported rules of engagement".

 

We may never know precisely why Daniel was snatched and killed. His murderers have achieved no political objective; they have only defamed Pakistan and Islam and by their savage act brought into sharper relief the insanity that masquerades in the garb of nationalism and religion.

 

The first war of the new millennium has brought in its wake death and destruction not only in America, but also in Afghanistan. And in the next few months it is likely to expand to other countries, possibly,  starting with Iraq.

 

It's high time that the world should get united in fighting against the evil of terrorism than merely be a witness

 

Terrorism – whether by militants to ‘justify’ their cause or by a State in response to terrorist acts – brings only death and destruction to the innocent people, while the perpetrators or those who sponsor them (or a State which use the right of self-defence to launch these attacks) remain mostly safe and unharmed.

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger of Collateral Damage, Hollywood’s first September 11 victim, has this to say on Terrorism (quoted in the Globe and Mail, Toronto):

 

“It’s a very complex issue, and it is naïve to think that we can cross over and do what we do in the movies to terrorists in real life… Do we cut the heads off of people who are not guilty of doing anything, but who could do something awful if they’re called to do something very dangerous?

 

“I think what is more important is to cut down the people who foster terrorism and who fuel the terror network. And then to understand; we ‘ve got to go a step beyond and say, what can we do as a civilized country to decrease the amount of terrorists that are blooming. They are popping up because of dissatisfaction of one kind or another. There’s obviously a fundamental problem in the Middle East of those who have and those who don’t have.”

 

As Daniel Pearl’s widow, Mariane, told CNN’s Chris Burns, in an interview: There are also “deeper reasons that we all know but more vaguely, right? Lack of education, it's a major one, absolutely major one, lack of resources, lack of hope, lack of scope for the people”.

 

We should try to address the underlying problems that bring about these kinds of groups.

 

We hope that President Bush honors the Pearls by heeding her declaration that "Revenge would be easy, but it is far more valuable in my opinion to address this problem of terrorism with enough honesty to question our own responsibility as nations and as individuals for the rise of terrorism."

 

As we all grapple with the aftermaths of Sept.11th and "our" war on terrorism we can only try to make sense of the deaths of innocent people for the larger cause. If we ever needed a "Gandhi" to lead us to peace it apparently would be now.

 

- Suresh Jaura
Publisher & Managing Editor