But while the plight of this successful young Afghan journalist has (following Mastrogiacomo’s release) received almost no attention in American news outlets, his kidnapping is a big story in Afghanistan. Many in Kabul’s international community are worried that the Mastrogiacomo exchange sets a bad precedent for more kidnappings — “When we create a situation where you can buy the freedom of Taliban fighters when you catch a journalist, then in the short term there will be no journalists anymore,” the Dutch foreign minister remarked last week — and many Afghans are angry that their government has not done more for one of its own after all it did for a foreigner.
Still, from what little information there is available, Naqshbandi appears to be alive, at least. On Friday, Agence France Presse reported that he called his father the day before “to say his life was in danger and he was still with the Taliban,” and yesterday AFP reported, citing the Pajhwok Afghan News agency, “that a purported Taliban spokesman had said the group was ready to negotiate with the government” over Naqshbandi’s release.
“I know that the president’s office is taking some sort of action to secure his release,” says Joshua Gross, a spokesperson for the Afghan embassy in Washington, “because he is an Afghan citizen, and one whom we want to protect like any other Afghan citizen who is in danger.”
Gross adds that “hopefully his release will be secured in the near future.”
“He’s thoughtful, resourceful, and decent,” says Kuwayama, “and I can’t think of a greater tragedy for Afghanistan than losing someone like him.”