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)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project