(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to Pakistani Interior Minister Moinud-din Haider, RSF expressed its deep concern following the 23 January 2002 disappearance of Daniel Pearl, a journalist for the American daily "The Wall Street Journal", in Karachi (southern Pakistan). "We ask the Pakistani authorities to urgently do everything in their power to assist in the progress of the investigation," stated RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard. The organisation also asked to be kept informed of progress in the investigation.
According to information collected by RSF, Pearl, "The Wall Street Journal"'s Bombay-based correspondent, is said to be missing since Wednesday 23 January. The American journalist, aged 38, had been in Karachi over the past three weeks, where he was investigating British highjacker Richard Reid. Reid had gone to Pakistan sometime before his attempted attack on an American Airlines Paris-Miami flight on 22 December 2001. According to local police, Pearl, who had recently left his hotel to stay with a friend in Karachi, wanted to interview political and religious leaders. The journalist has not been in touch with his office since Wednesday 23 January. Pearl's wife, a French journalist herself, handed her husband's daybook over to local police to help them determine where the American journalist went and who he met with before his disappearance. The Pakistani government has asked the province of Sind's (southern Pakistan) governor and police to launch a manhunt and not to spare any effort. The financial daily's publisher, Dow Jones & Co., stated that it was working in conjunction with Pakistani and American authorities to locate Pearl.
Another journalist in Karachi "disappeared" for fourty-eight hours this week. On 24 January, Ghulam Hasnain, a Pakistani journalist who works for the American weekly "Time", came home after having been reported missing for two days. The journalist refused to discuss what happened to him. According to another Karachi-based journalist, Hasnain is allegedly suffering from deep "shock." Nobody has claimed responsibility for his abduction and the authorities did not report on his disappearance. His wife, a journalist for the daily "Dawn", stated that she received a phone call from the Special Police (Governmental Security Department), who reportedly questioned her about her husband's past and his political affiliations. According to unconfirmed rumours, Pearl and Hasnain may have been working on the same leads.