Obituary: Mirwais Jalil
Wednesday 03 August 1994
EACH night, as the blacked-out Afghan capital shook under heavy exchanges of fire, Mirwais Jalil would take out a tiny shortwave radio and clamp it to his ear. When I met him in March he had been a freelance reporter for the BBC's Pashto and Persian language services for less than two years, and still could not hide his delight at hearing his reports coming back over the ether.
Millions of Afghans would be listening at the same time. In a largely illiterate country, at war since the late 1970s, the BBC is almost the only authoritative source of news. No commander's claim of victory is taken seriously until it has been reported on the BBC; no press conference begins until the BBC correspondent arrives; no facility trip is organised unless the BBC has agreed to go on it.
For Mirwais, only 25, such prestige was a heady experience. The son of a medical practitioner, he went to high school in Kabul, then took an English language course in Pakistan, where his family has now moved to escape the fighting. After beginning work as a freelance journalist, his vigour and enthusiasm took him to the BBC. He was always happy to show visiting journalists around, though few were prepared to run as many risks as he did: returning from a perilous morning on Kabul's front line, Mirwais would propose going back in the afternoon.
His death, however, was not a random misfortune. He had escorted an Italian journalist to the headquarters of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Afghanistan's renegade Prime Minister. As they were returning, their taxi was stopped on the outskirts of Kabul by four gunmen, their faces wrapped in scarves, who took him away in another car. His bullet-riddled body was found the next day.
The BBC's unique position in Afghanistan means that it receives complaints and threats almost every day, and each side has blamed the other for Mirwais Jalil's murder. Foreigners normally enjoy a remarkable degree of immunity in what is an extremely violent country, but some Afghans were not prepared to allow one of their own to remain outside the conflict.
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 5 Cancel Sky at your peril: man spends 96 minutes in chat but fails to get rid of service
Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor are reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
'Jihadi John': Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi wanted to wage jihad in Somalia until his friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...
£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...