Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Baktash Muqim, At The Grave Of His Martyred Cousin: "I Want To Be A Journalist"

KABUL - In the old cemetery in the Barakey neighbourhood, the inscription above the raised stone coffin within the most prominent shrine reads, in Dari: "Shaheed Ajmal Naqeshbandi, son of Engineer Ghulum Haider Naqeshbandi, was born in 1981 to a Muslim family. After graduating from school, he became a journalist. He could speak English, Urdu, Arabic and Pashto. On February 14, 2006, he went to Hellmand to make his reports, and he was kidnapped by the Taliban, and they killed him brutally. He was kind to his people, and was intolerable to the enemies of Afghanistan. Ajmal Naqeshbandi will always be remembered with honour by the people of Afghanistan."

Ajmal was kidnapped along with the Italian journalist for whom he was working - Daniele Mastrogiacomo of La Repubblica - and Mastrogiacomo's driver, Sayed Agha, in Helmand province, on March 5, 2007. Agha was murdered on charges he was "spying for foreign troops." President Karzai agreed to release five ranking Taliban prisoners as ransom in exchange for Mastrogiacomo, but refused to ransom Ajmal, who was beheaded on April 8, 2007.

There was an uproar. The Naqeshbandi family says the Afghan government ended up paying a ransom of $30,000 and a Toyota land cruiser for Ajmal's remains, which had been left in the desert for three days. The body was returned to the family, in Kabul, with its head sewn back on.

The high street in Barakey, one of the poorer sections of Kabul, is now called Ajmal Naqeshbandi Road, and its whirling and chaotic traffic circle is called Ajmal Naqeshbandi Square.


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