Saturday, February 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pearl possibly alive: Musharraf

Washington, February 15
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today dismissed claims by the alleged kidnapper of US journalist Daniel Pearl that he was dead and said the reporter was “possibly alive”.

Asked by reporters at the National Press Club here, whether Pearl was “alive or not,” he said “It is a million dollar question”.

“My answer will be: I think if he was not alive, with all the pressure we are putting, I think we would have got his body from somewhere — I am putting it very crudely. So I personally think that he is possibly alive, and though Sheikh lately has said he is not alive, I don’t believe him,” he said.

“He has been switching statements a number of times. He may be trying to take us off the track, I hope and pray he is alive and that later we will get to him,” he said.

Stating that there were two possible reasons behind this kidnapping, General Musharraf said “One possibility is that may be it is (because of) my action and moving against extremism that some of these extremists thought they should try to destabilise me and my government”.

The US Federal authorities are, meanwhile, probing the activities of a militant sect of black Muslims operating in the country which has links with Sheikh Sayeed Mubarak Ali Gilani, detained in Pakistan in connection with the kidnapping of Pearl.

A report from Islamabad said in a new twist to Pearl’s kidnapping, the presiding judge to the anti-terrorism court in Karachi has denied reports that Sheikh Omar Saeed had said the US reporter was dead.

Judge Arshad Noor Khan, who remanded Sheikh to 13 days custody after hsearing him, told reporters later that the court had not heard Sheikh saying anything about Pearl’s death.

The police, meanwhile, said it had identified Mansur Hasnai, the main architect of the December 1999 hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane, as the main suspect who plotted the kidnapping.

A report from Karachi said the police conducted more raids today in search of Pearl, as his wife appealed for his release for the sake of their unborn child.

The police raided more houses in Karachi overnight but did not find Pearl. “The police has arrested at least six more persons in connection with the Pearl case as a result of certain leads,” Sindh Home Secretary Brig Nukhtar Sheikh said.

Pearl’s wife Mariane issued a new plea to his captors.

“I want to appeal again to you to please release him or at least let me know how he is doing,” she wrote in a statement issued by Dow Jones. PTI, AFP.Back

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