Obituary: Mirwais Jalil

Mirwais Jalil, journalist: born Kabul 1969; died Kabul 29 July 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.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?