The Supreme Court (SC) accepted Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Asma Jahangir’s petition, late on Thursday, for the formation of an independent commission to probe Saleem Shehzad’s murder.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice(CJ) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry will hear the petition on Friday.
This development follows a five-member bench judicial commission formed by the federal government earlier on Thursday, to be headed by Justice Saquib Nisar.
However, Justice Saquib Nisar had refused to accept his charge citing improper conduct of the government.
Express 24/7 correspondent Faisal Shakeel reported that, Justice, who said that Saleem Shehzad was like a son to him, would have accepted the chair of the commission if the government would have taken the Chief Justice into confidence first.
Additionally, in the original notification which was made public early Thursday morning, Justice Saquib Nisar was named as being ‘associated’ with the commission rather than heading it.
The government on Thursday agreed to the terms and conditions of journalists for the probe into journalist Saleem Shahzad’s murder.
The announcement was made by Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan this morning outside the Parliament House where journalists had organised a sit-in demanding the formation of judicial commission headed by a Supreme Court judge to probe the killing of Saleem Shahzad.
Awan said Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was woken up from sleep to sign the summary for the judicial inquiry that will take place to probe into the murder. She said Justice Saqib Nisar has been appointed head of the commission.
The government issued a notification for the formation of a five-member commission to investigate the murder of journalist Saleem Shehzad.
Other members of the commission include Federal Shariah Court Chief Justice Agha Rafique, the Islamabad DIG, Additional IG Investigation Punjab and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists president. The commission will set up its office in the Information Ministry and will submit a report into the murder within six weeks.
The information minister said the government is committed to providing security to journalists.
Journalists have called an end to the sit-in after the announcement.
Updated from print edition (below)
Saleem Shahzad murder: This one will not go in vain
This one, it seems, will not just fade away.
Though dozens of their colleagues have been killed over the last decade, journalists seem to be adamant to ensure that the kidnapping and brutal beating to death of reporter Saleem Shahzad will finally be a case where truth will be unveiled.
Hundreds of journalists from across the country marched on the Constitution Avenue in the federal capital on Wednesday before staging a 24-hour sit-in next to the Parliament House, demanding that the government form a judicial commission headed by a Supreme Court judge to probe the killing of Saleem Shahzad.
The call for the protest was made by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) after journalists rejected the government’s appointment of the chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court as the head of the commission probing the journalist’s death.
Journalists said that they would accept no less than a sitting Supreme Court judge to conduct a free and fair inquiry into the killing of the journalist, who was kidnapped from Islamabad on May 28 and murdered by yet ‘unknown’ elements. His beaten and tortured body was found from Mandi Bahauddin on May 30.
“We have no political agenda. We are here to demand a fair judicial inquiry into the murder,” said Pervaiz Shaukat, the president of the PFUJ.
A permanent camp was set up next to the Parliament House where various leaders of journalists’ representative bodies made speeches amid emotional sloganeering.
They were, from time to time, joined by parliamentarians belonging to almost all political parties, who expressed solidarity with the journalists’ demand for justice.
Farahnaz Isphahani, the media adviser to the president, said that she would convey to the prime minister and the president the journalists’ demand.
“The government had constituted a commission earlier as well which was not acceptable to them, therefore, we (parliamentarians) will meet both the President and the Prime Minister on Thursday,” she told The Express Tribune.
After offering prayers for Shehzad, she assured the journalists of her unyielding support. However, Isphahani found herself in a difficult situation when she tried to assert that the government was serious in handling the matter. She was interrupted by loud slogans by young journalists, who reiterated their demand for a sitting Supreme Court judge to head the commission.
Earlier, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif visited the journalists’ camp and told journalists that he agreed with their demand for a sitting Supreme Court judge to conduct the judicial inquiry into the murder.
“The invisible elements active behind (all) such activities must be uncovered now,” said Sharif.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the government needed to take immediate action on Shehzad’s killing.
A number of foreign journalists also participated in the sit-in, providing extensive foreign coverage.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2011.