New Delhi: Many people have asked us why reinvestigate a kidnapping from 1995 when there are many more recent incidents, horrific and baffling, that remain unsolved? There are several reasons. For me, (and for Benazir Bhutto with whom we discussed the Kashmir kidnapping many times as it had struck such a chord with her as Prime Minister) it was a watershed, a point at which the West witnessed for the first time what some Islamist factions operating in and around Pakistan were actually capable of " and I'm talking primarily here of the beheading of Norwegian traveller Hans Christian Ostro - which came well before we had the wake up call of 9/11.
Sure, there were many serious and horrifying acts of terrorism that preceded it, yet somehow they seemed more remote and somehow did not engage the West. And the war in Afghanistan during which most of these jihadis had cut their teeth, was an esoteric, foreign news story for those insulated in Europe.
Ostro's killing was medieval, a new departure. It put Kashmir on the map for all the wrong reasons. These days, stories of kidnappings and executions are widespread and chillingly common, with Pakistan still the theatre of terror (Daniel Pearl, Piotr Stanczak, Khalil Dale are just a few names). But back then beheading a Western traveller in the presumed paradise of Kashmir seemed savage and nonsensical.
Masood Azhar, whose freedom was sought in exchange for the hostages, would, after his
02:50 PM, May 15, 2012