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Rescue Operation in Afghanistan


By James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES


DOUBLE STANDARD?


The Afghan ambassador on Thursday said rescue operations like the one this week that saved a kidnapped British reporter but left his Afghan interpreter dead leave the impression that a foreign life is more valuable than an Afghan life.
Ambassador Said T. Jawad, in an interview with Embassy Row, added that he does not share that impression and said it is too early to tell whether the Afghan aide was killed by Taliban terrorists or accidentally by British commandos who rescued New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell.
"I don't think a double standard was applied purposely," he said. "However, we have to be mindful of the perception this kind of operation creates."
Mr. Jawad was reacting to criticism from the Media Club of Afghanistan, made up of Afghan journalists who work with foreign reporters. The Media Club blamed the British commandos for the death of Sultan Munadi, a reporter and interpreter killed in an early- morning firefight during the rescue Wednesday in a northern Afghan village. They denounced the Taliban for kidnapping the two journalists.
The Afghan reporters also complained that the British troops reclaimed the body of one of their commandos killed in the rescue but left Mr. Munadi's body behind. Afghan officials retrieved his body Wednesday afternoon, and his family buried him in the capital, Kabul.
Mr. Jawad also criticized British commandos for leaving behind Mr. Munadi's body.
"The Afghan journalist should have been treated with the same respect as the foreign journalist," he said.
Mr. Jawad applauded the Media Club, saying, "We are proud of the Afghan journalists who are taking a stand for their fellow colleague."
The ambassador added that Afghan reporters often face greater risks than their foreign colleagues because the Taliban often knows who they are and retaliates against them.
In 2007, Taliban fighters kidnapped Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo and his Afghan interpreter and driver. They released the journalist in a prisoner exchange but killed the two Afghans.
In Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai and his main opponent in the Aug. 20 election, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, called for an investigation into Mr. Munadi's death.

By James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.
Publication name: The Washington Times
Publication date: Friday, September 11, 2009

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