Business Standard

Kasab's hanging not among main headlines in Pak news channels

Most news outlets reported the event without offering any comment or analysis

Hours after the hanging of in India, the news was no longer among the main headlines on the Pakistani channels, having been replaced by the events in and domestic developments.

Though state-run Radio Pakistan and private networks like Geo News led their morning bulletins with the development, by the afternoon it was no longer a major story.

The cautious handling by the news channels of the early morning execution of 25-year-old Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani terrorist involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, reflected the muted response in the public sphere.

Most news outlets, including TV channels and websites of leading newspapers like Dawn and The Express Tribune, reported the event without offering any comment or analysis.

Kasab's Pakistani nationality has been a sensitive issue since the Mumbai attacks and reporting by the Pakistani media on most matters related to the assault, including the ongoing trial of seven Pakistanis, has mostly been perfunctory.

"There was a general impression that Kasab, like Afzal Guru, would not be hanged but this development has obviously put Pakistan in a bit of a shock," said Raza Rumi, editor of The Friday Times, while referring to the man sentenced to death for the 2001 attack on India's Parliament.

"Most Pakistanis have condemned the Mumbai attacks and, given the evidence, they will not react adversely to this hanging. However, a larger question remains and that deals with tackling extremism on both sides of the border which unfortunately is hostage to nation-state narratives," Rumi told PTI.

Other analysts too contended that Kasab's hanging was unlikely to impact India-Pakistan relations at a time when leaders of both countries have been pushing for increased trade and people-to-people contacts.

President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday confirmed Pakistan's ratification of a new landmark visa agreement with India that creates new visa categories for tourists, businessmen and pilgrims.

Pakistan has committed itself to granting India Most Favoured Nation-status by the beginning of next year and the two sides are working to increase trade to USD six billion by 2014.    

Leaders from both sides have said increased trade ties could create the grounds for tackling more contentious issues like the Kashmir problem.  

However, debate on Kasab's execution on social networking and micro-blogging sites like Twitter and Facebook and the websites of newspapers was more heated, with some suggesting that Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh should be hanged for his alleged involvement in a string of bombings in Pakistan in 1990.    

Sarabjit's family has always contended that his was a case of mistaken identity and rights activists like Pakistan's former human rights minister Ansar Burney have questioned his conviction, saying the evidence against him was faulty.

While Indians posting comments on The Express Tribune's website largely welcomed Kasab's execution, some Pakistanis called for Sarabjit's hanging and others suggested the execution was a "conspiracy" to eliminate all evidence related to the Mumbai attacks.

A person who identified himself only as Feroze wrote: "Good riddance to bad rubbish. Wish we did the same here to every terrorist caught."

Many on Twitter from both sides of the border referred to the need to tackle the masterminds behind the Mumbai attacks.

founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, named by India as the brain behind the incident, was detained for less than six months after the attacks before being freed on the orders of the Lahore High Court.

Though the US has offered a 10-million-dollar reward for Saeed, Pakistani authorities have claimed they have not been given any evidence by India that can be used to prosecute him.

The trial of the seven suspects charged with planning, financing and executing the Mumbai attacks, including LeT operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, by a Rawalpindi- based anti-terrorism court has been virtually stalled for over a year due to various technical reasons.

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