Pakistani newspapers today offered a muted reaction to the hanging of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the sole gunman to be arrested for his involvement in the November 2008 terror strikes in Mumbai, with only one paper commenting that India's double standards over handling its convicts on death row had been exposed.
"There was no visible excitement on the streets. Majority of the people here don’t subscribe to the Laskhar-e-Taiba ideology. People saw CCTV footage which showed Kasab holding a gun and they realised that he was responsible for deaths in Mumbai. Their sympathies were not with Kasab. They did not care about him and wanted to move on,” Ayesha Siddiqa, political commentator, based in Pakistan, told Firstpost.
“We must note that for both the countries, Kasab’s presence was a constant reminder of Mumbai attacks,” she said.
News about Kasab's execution, the war or words between India and Pakistan over whether the latter were informed in advance were on most local news websites throughout Wednesday.
On Thursday, it made front page news in most English dailies in Pakistan including Dawn, The News and The Nation, but didn't get the screaming headlines like those seen in Indian newspapers.
Dawn carried the news item titled ‘Ajmal ‘Kasab hanged secretly’, at the bottom of the front page. The paper had an article titled ‘The unending Faridkot mystery’, narrating the experience of two Dawn journalists, who were the first ones from the local media to meet and confirm the identity of the gunman's father Amir Kasab, in December 2008 in Pakistan’s Faridkot district. The paper's edit page had a column on how Pakistan government failed to monitor the activities of its secret services agencies.
Zulkarnain, a political correspondent with PTI news agency told Firstpost that some TV reporters who tried to travel to Kasab’s Faridkot home on Wednesday were stopped by security forces.
“After the location was disclosed to media, Ajmal’s family shifted to an undisclosed location. No one knows here where they reside now,” he said.
The News on page 8, carried an article titled ‘Kasab, Indian double standards and his confession’. The piece reproduced extracts of Kasab’s confession and highlighted that India hanged him on the day when it voted against a UN General Assembly that called for the abolishing of the death penalty.
The Nation had an article ‘India celebrates Ajmal Kasab’s execution’ as one of its two top news items on the front page. The paper also carried an article headlined ‘Ajmal Kasab executed in a hurry’.
“Anyhow, in case of Ajmal Kasab, the Indian government seemed in hurry to hang him as most death sentences in India were commuted to life imprisonment, but convicts had to sit on death row for years awaiting a final decision,” read the piece by Mohammad Jamil.
“In Pakistan, Sarabjit Singh’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Otherwise also, most Indian prisoners like Kashmir Singh left Pakistan hale and hearty, but Pakistan received dead bodies of its prisoners,” it added.
Ahmed Faraz, a senior journalist with Dawn told Firstpost that the news coverage was somewhat restrained and there was no hue and cry in Pakistan over the news of Kasab’s execution as the country had lately accepted India’s position on terrorism.
“Lately, we saw Pakistan resigning to the situation and indicting almost everyone including Hafiz Saeed who was accused by India of being involved in Mumbai attacks. India also got access to Abu Jundal. Therefore, people in Pakistan knew that Kasab would meet this fate. It was just a matter of time,” said Faraz.