Does the murder of Saleem Shahzad give way to more?


The news of murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad, a well-known journalist from Islamabad and Bureau Chief of Asia Times, was a fresh shock for the journalist community all over the country. When Shahzad published his two-part report saying that the Pakistan Navy had Al Qaeda infiltration, everyone believed him. It was not the garbage published by someone, who only worked for sensational publication, following the leads of yellow journalism. This man was an expert on Al Qaeda, having seen it operate closely and having covered them during several integral points of time during the past. Therefore, it was no surprise that he went missing a couple of days after on Sunday May 29, 2011. But the hope against hope of his family, friends, and colleagues of him turning up soon, was battered after his brutally tortured body was found on Tuesday (two days later) along with his missing car.
In October, Shahzad had sent an email to the group Human Rights Watch, “in case something happens to me or my family in future,” detailing how he was called into the offices of the ISI after publishing a story saying that Pakistan had quietly freed Mullah Bahadar, the deputy leader of the Afghan Taliban who was arrested in February 2010. It has been recorded by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) that during the past eight to nine years, over 45 journalists have been killed, some in terrorist attacks, others picked up by unidentified men, after which they went missing only to turn up dead later. Until now, there has certainly been no bias from the side of the perpetrators in the killing of these journalists, because no one media group or news agency has been targeted. From Sindh to Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, and especially in Baluchistan, journalists have been reported tortured, missing and murdered belonging from almost every organization including PPI, Dawn TV, Daily Baluchistan Express, Waqt TV, The News International, Geo, Jang, etc.
Many of the journalists did not belong to the national media. They were part of the regional press and were associated with news they had published which could threaten the security and intelligence agencies of the country, while in several other cases, they were reportedly picked up by militants themselves and killed afterwards. Some have been murdered in mysterious circumstances. For example On May 21, 2009, Ibrahim, 45, from Express TV was returning home after a high profile interview of Maulvi Omar, the chief of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), when unidentified gunmen killed him. The PFUJ strongly condemned the incident, but not much action was taken to investigate the incident. In another incident, Hayatullah Khan who was a reporter of the AFP in the area of FATA was abducted. He had written extensively about Al Qaeda, Taliban and the heavy fighting in Waziristan. After being abducted in October, 2005 his body was found six month later in July 2006. Later, his wife and brother were also killed.
CR Shamsi, elected member and former secretary general of the PFUJ, claims that mercilessness and indifference has reached a level where no one is moved by such incidents. “This crisis that has hit the Pakistani journalist community seems to be growing worse and worse each year. Still I don’t see any noise being made by the lawyers, the civil society, the government officials. If one journalist is murdered an entire society is murdered – this should be remembered,” he says. Shamsi says that journalists were never so blatantly treated, not even during the martial law era. “This is terrifying: to be abducted and then turn up tortured or murdered with horrendous marks over your body. Who are these people and what signals are they trying to give?” According to a statement by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), this was an action to muzzle the media. While expressing grief, HRCP condemned the murder and said that this was a depraved attempt to silence the media. The identity of the perpetrators may only be established through a transparent probe but the quick disposal of his body and burial strengthens doubts of the involvement of state actors.
HRCP Chairperson Zohra Yousuf says, “All media organizations should collaborate over this issue and the government should flex its authority,” she says. “Leaving the defense and intelligence forces and giving them absolute power to act on their own whims is wrong. This is why human rights defenders and journalists are in worst circumstances. This is also why Reporters Sans Frontiers (RFS) have declared Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, even though countries like Afghanistan have a militant war going on in them too.” Zohra opines that for the past 10 years, the role of the intelligence agencies has changed and they have become stronger because of the war against militancy, and these killings have increased because sensitive matters have been exposed. Last year 12 of them were murdered, she said.
PROTESTS: Various media and human rights organizations held protests on Wednesday to condemn Shehzad’s murder. Lahore Press Club and South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) held a joint protest. They asked the authorities to take action against the killers of Shahzad. SAFMA secretary general and other notables were present at the protest. PFUJ has also announced two-day mourning. Several human rights organizations also demanded immediate justice for Shahzad’s family. HRCP demands a professional and scientific investigation to apprehend the killers. If it must, the government should seek help from other countries in this regard. HRCP statement reads, “The government must give compensation to the bereaved family and consult media organizations with a view to allay journalists’ apprehensions about their safety and security.”


  1. its sad, how some cannot face the truth, their true identity, and have to kill these people who are brave to expose them. Killing them further proves the truth to be a fact.

  2. Independent inquiry must take place.But Wali Babars' (GEO) murderers exposed by Zulfikar Mirza some time back must also he exposed for target killers of thousands and bathakhors of billions of dollars of Karachi perhaps two months back.If coalition junta for political vested objectives buries inquiry reports of six intelligence agencies time and again as of above ;than Abotabad,Naval attack,Saleem Shahzad cases could only occur due to political-corruption protection of each other.

  3. It is not surprising to say that in Pakistan even human life is unsafe, what to talk about others rights. From high alert army officials to an ordinary man all are facing the same fate after having powerful defense institutions. There are not many opportunities to grow and keep the wheel of economy moving. The country is all around besieged from internal as well as external threats to stability. Everybody here is desperately struggling to survive by hook or crook. As far as security officials and law enforcement agencies are sacrificing their lives for the defense of the nation, things are understandable. But what to say when a journalist or and ordinary man is killed. There is no proper investigation conducted after these occasions and no mystery is uncovered. Public is kept under shadows and confusions from all these deadly incidents. What comes to my mind is what we are all doing in this country if it does not give us the very basic rights after we pay huge taxes. Why are we sitting at homes watching all this happening and waiting any messiah to come and relieve us from these sufferings? There is an immediate need of human rights revolution in Pakistan to bring a total change to this unwanted life events.
    Read Here about Death news of another Journalist Saleem Shahzad

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