Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Journalist's death casts long shadow over afghan government

One cannot avoid the feeling that in the long run the senseless killing of innocent people -- here the journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi -- by those who identify with Al Qaeda / Taliban is counterproductive. True, it was an iniquitous blunder for Karzai to arrange for the Italian journalist to be freed while he left the Afghan journalist to languish in limbo, ultimately to die. But who will respect those who killed him? Even if a population could be brought under subjection to such brutes, would their subjects respect them, trust them? The ultimate cost to the militant movement will be fatal; no one will want to deal with them. This seems to me the fate of the takfir movement -- the movement that declares that all those who do not subscribe to their own legalistic practice of Islam should be killed. Who wants to live in a world like this? Beneath the takfir movement is an unspoken desperation: either society must be subjected to the formalities of religious observance by force or all will be lost. Indeed, if we refer to authentic "hearts and minds" all has already been lost.

By Hafizullah Gardesh
Institute for War and Peace Reporting

"The news hit the airwaves on April 8 ... the young journalist [Ajmal Naqshbandi] had been beheaded"
"Within hours, the country was in uproar ... a Kabul resident, could not speak of Ajmal without tears in his eyes.'Why are these oppressors killing you [journalists], who have no weapons besides a pen and a notebook?' he said."
"Newspapers were printed with a black-bordered portrait of Ajmal onApril 10, and electronic media observed two minutes of silence."
" 'After this, journalists will never feel safe, because they have no support,' [Fazel Hossein Sancharaki, head of the National Union of Journalists] said. 'This will have a very negative impact on freedom of speech in Afghanistan.' "
"However, the Taleban are also losing some support."
" 'The Taleban are killers,' said Mustafa, 22, a resident of LashkarGah. 'This time they killed simple Afghans - a driver and a journalist. That is a very great crime.' "

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