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February 4, 2002
2145 IST

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Pearl alive, but mystery shrouds his whereabouts

K J M Varma in Islamabad

The Pakistan police on Monday began looking into the possible involvement of criminal gangs in the abduction of Wall Street Journal scribe Daniel Pearl and extended their search to other parts of the country following the discovery of a body on a roadside in Karachi.

Following confirmation by Marianne, the American journalist's wife, the police concluded that the body that was found on Sunday night was not that of Pearl.

Though the authorities considered Islamic extremists, especially the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, to be behind the abduction, they had widened their investigations to include criminal gangs in other parts of the country, reports quoting police sources said.

The police interrogated a 16-year-old boy from Lahore, who had allegedly sent an email claiming that Pearl was alive, the reports said.

The Deputy Inspector General of Karachi, Tariq Jamil, told The Dawn newspaper that "the youth is in custody, and our investigators are interrogating the suspect. However, we still have not made any headway in the case".

The youth was believed to have sent an email two days ago saying that Pearl had been killed, followed by another message that he was alive.

According to the reports, Pearl had met Arif, an activist in Karachi, on January 23. Arif, who is presumed dead, had in turn referred him to one Bashir.

The police raided Arif's house in Bahawalpur, Punjab, and it was discovered that Arif's real name was Hashim. During the raid, the family was performing his funeral rites.

The family claimed that Hashim had died in the war in Afghanistan. However, they could not show Hashim's body or his grave, which made the police suspect that he was alive.

ALSO READ:
PM rubbishes Pakistan's claim on scribe's abduction
US demands reporter's immediate release
Key suspect surrenders, denies involvement
India rejects Pakistan's charge
Another suspect found dead

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(c) Copyright 2001 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

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