PAKISTAN: Amnesty appeals for hostage release

'The taking of hostages is a grave human rights abuse and is totally unacceptable. It is an act which threatens the fundamental right to life, personal integrity and liberty, and is expressly prohibited by international law. Under no circumstances is the taking of hostages justifiable,' Amnesty International said.

Daniel Pearl, a correspondent for the New York based newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, disappeared in the course of his work in Karachi on 23 January 2002. Pearl who is based in Bombay, was reportedly trying to interview an Islamic group in Karachi believed to have close links to al-Qa'ida.

The group reportedly made demands that the USA treat detainees held at its naval base in Cuba more humanely.

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