The pox on everything else

Published: January 12, 2012

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

The pox on coup d’états and what they do to the country; the pox on whether Pakistan army generals ably led by the Sipah Salaar will carry one out now or not; the pox on what the Sipah Salaar will or will not do with the elected government; the pox on what will happen to the government ably led by Makhdoom Sahib; the pox on whether the ANP; the MQM; the PML (Shujaat); and the Fata members will leave the coalition or not.

The pox on what happened on the evening and night of January 11 despite the antics of the apoplectic anchor of a particularly raucous news channel who almost choked on his own anger at the elected government; the pox on the self-righteous indignation of the retired army and air force officers who were trotted out by self-same channel, wearing halos around their heads and spouting poison against the elected representatives of the people good, bad, or ugly.

None of that silliness is important. Neither is the extent of the destruction that will result if the Army does foment a coup, even a constitutional one to remove the government; nor the consequences of an engineered ‘caretaker’ set-up and the destruction these arrangements have always wreaked on the country and its institutions, making a mockery of good sense and rectitude,and making us Pakistanis the laughing stock of the world. Been there, too many times.

What is of utmost import today; what is a matter of life or death for many Pakistanis; what will determine whether we are a civilised people or a horde of wild brutes is the shamefully non-conclusive report on the brutal and savage beating to death of journalist Saleem Shahzad. A death foretold by the victim, reportedly to many of his friends, but definitely and publicly to at least two eminent Pakistanis: Hameed Haroon, the publisher of Dawn, and Ali Dayan Hasan, the Pakistan director of the respected Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Let me here and now remind my readers of the contents of Saleem Shahzad’s pleas to any and all who would pay heed, as given in HRW’s statement before the Commission:

“Shahzad had previously complained of threats by ISI agents for his reporting on links between the ISI and al Qaeda. On October 19, 2010, Shahzad sent an email to HRW outlining a recent meeting he had had with the ISI and asking for the email to be released if he or his family were harmed. Shahzad asked Human Rights Watch to make details of the meeting public ‘in case something happens to me or my family in future’.

“Shahzad told Human Rights Watch that he had been threatened by the ISI at the 17 October meeting at the ISI headquarters in Islamabad with the director-general of the Media Wing of the ISI, Rear Admiral Adnan Nazir, and another ISI official, Commodore Khalid Pervaiz. Shahzad wrote that the meeting ended with the following comment from Rear Admiral Nazir, which Shahzad construed as a death threat: ‘I must give you (sic) a favour. We have recently arrested a terrorist and recovered a lot of data, diaries and other material during the interrogation. The terrorist had a list with him. If I find your name in the list, I will certainly let you know.’”

“Shahzad sent the same email and information about other threats to Hameed Haroon, publisher of the English language daily Dawn and president of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society, and to colleagues at Asia Times Online. All those who spoke to Shahzad at the time including professional journalists and Human Rights Watch understood that a threat had been made to his life through the statement quoted above. In order to place the threat on record, Shahzad wrote an account of the meeting and emailed it to the recipients.

“Later, in January and March, Shahzad informed Human Rights Watch by telephone of two other instances where he felt threats were made to him by or on behalf of the ISI by people who identified themselves as belonging to the agency.

“Following her husband’s instructions, Shahzad’s wife, Anita Saleem, informed Human Rights Watch of her husband’s going missing on May 30. She told Human Rights Watch that she had received an anonymous phone call saying that Shahzad would be released the same evening. I made inquiries and credible sources claimed that Shahzad was in intelligence agency custody and was expected to be released in the evening of May 30.

“When Shahzad failed to reappear, Human Rights Watch notified the Pakistani and international media of our grave concern that he had been forcibly disappeared. His body was found on 31 May near Mandi Bahauddin, bearing signs of torture.

“On 1 June … (an) ISI official denied that any threat had been made to Shahzad, stating that, ‘The reported e-mail of Mr Saleem Shahzad to Mr Ali Hasan Dayan of HRW’ was ‘being made the basis of baseless allegations’ … the following day, Haroon, the Dawn publisher, went on record to ‘verify that allegations levied by HRW at the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) are essentially in complete consonance with the contents of the slain journalist’s e-mail.’ Haroon added that he wished to ‘state on the record’ that the late journalist confided to him that he had received death threats from various officers of the ISI on at least three occasions in the past five years”.

Now then, a few questions to the Commission:

Were all of Shahzad’s telephone records recovered?

WHO disappeared them in the first place?

Were the “credible sources” who stated that Shahzad was in the custody of an ‘intelligence agency’ questioned?

Were his emails and other pleas treated as dying statements?

In the end, nothing was gained by Shahzad’s horrific killing: The front page of Dawn of January 9 says it all: The poor man was always right.

Final Score: Deep State 10; Hapless Pakistanis including the Commission: 0

The very least the PM can do is to reject the report out of hand and order a new inquiry.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Ahmad
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:42PM

    If you go by the report, he probably wasn’t murdered at all. What a pathetic waste of time and money.

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  • JustAnotherPakistani
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:44PM

    WHO disappeared them in the first place?” Seriously, sirs (your oft abused word), is that English? Where’s the sub-editor?

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  • Akhtar
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:57PM
  • Jan 12, 2012 - 11:02PM

    Does Pakistan need a New State to de-power the Deep State?

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  • sam
    Jan 12, 2012 - 11:30PM

    Thank you for your well written and brave article. totally agree

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  • Parvez
    Jan 12, 2012 - 11:39PM

    Reading something like this does make one feel insignificant and helpless.

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  • Arifq
    Jan 13, 2012 - 12:03AM

    Rest in peace Saleem, you will always be the bigger man. Shafi Sahib, reading about Saleem makes the heart bleed, invokes a strong desire for revenge, when will we be free? Free of these chains, free of our mental slavishnes? Free to be human and be accepted as an equal? When will the “Occupation” of Pakistan end?

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  • Abbas from the US
    Jan 13, 2012 - 12:21AM

    I don’t know how many readers followed Syed Saleem Shahzad over the years. But since 2003, I don’t recall having missed one single article that he wrote. What a tragedy and I still miss him. He had insight that no other journalist from Pakistan could offer. And sometimes I wonder how his family will be coping with his death.

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  • Dr Pakhtun
    Jan 13, 2012 - 12:50AM

    Very well written Kamran Sahib! May Allah give all of us the courage (like you) to challenge the deep state.

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  • Baloch Agony
    Jan 13, 2012 - 12:51AM

    As a Baloch, I think of Saleem Shahzad as one of our own. We are all too painfully familiar with our youth “disappearing” and being found dead with marks of torture on their wrecked bodies. Shahzad was the victim of the same intelligence agents who have subjected our youth to this horrific indignity.

    When agencies of the state resort to these inhuman practices, when they cease to treat their own citizens as humans, it is the beginning of the end of the state. The question we ask ourselves is — will our misery and agony end only when the state ends?

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  • Tariq
    Jan 13, 2012 - 1:12AM
  • Disco
    Jan 13, 2012 - 4:57AM

    Excellent Article at excellent time, if west talks about the nexus between our Military & militants we just rubbish it, if a Pakistani tries to get there, he is just simple executed in broad day light.Recommend

  • DB
    Jan 13, 2012 - 5:13AM

    In what language is this considered a threat?

    ‘I must give you (sic) a favour. We have recently arrested a terrorist and recovered a lot of data, diaries and other material during the interrogation. The terrorist had a list with him. If I find your name in the list, I will certainly let you know.’

    They are saying they will look out for any threat Saleem Shahzad if found in large capture of materials from terrorist. If ISI is so evil, they would have just flat out stated they would teach him a lesson etc., why go around in circles?

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  • Uza Syed
    Jan 13, 2012 - 6:09AM

    Saleem Shahzad’s murder is a huge tragedy an irrepareable loss & damage to Pakistani psyche and an evil act, a heinous crime —– an attempt to cover up this crime is an act of infamy. This is terrorism, plane an simple. A whole nation can not be terrorized and if it’s then I’m afraid we are and must carry the burden of our negligent attitude and accomplice in this state terrorism. Shame on them who terrorize us, a people, and shame on us for allowing them to do so.

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  • adeel759
    Jan 13, 2012 - 7:43AM

    Rest in Peace, brave man. Sham Commission but again they have to live In Pakistan.

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  • Billy
    Jan 13, 2012 - 10:04AM

    Mr. Shafi, thank you for revealing the facts in detail. I salute your bravery, courage and loyalty to this land of ours, where the civilian government is nothing but a puppet at the hands of deep state. I strongly desire to see a powerful civilian government, governing all the institutions of this country, including the most powerful and mighty. May God protect you and all others like you, who have put their lives at risk, but have not compromised with their conscience.

    R.I.P. Shahzad Saleem…

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  • ishaq
    Jan 13, 2012 - 10:18AM

    Judiciary is exposed yet again

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  • Scorpio
    Jan 13, 2012 - 10:47AM

    Asking the PM to form another Comission is like asking Turkeys to vote for Christmas! Its a sorry State of affairs indeed. Keep goimg, Kamran Sahib. i salute your courage.

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  • Mr T
    Jan 13, 2012 - 11:00AM

    @DB:
    How naive of you.
    Thank you Shafi sb. Why don’t you appear on a channel and make this story more public to humiliate this evil agency which has taken Pakistan hostage. We Pakistani must come out on the street to let the deep state officials know they have to give up their shennanigans.Recommend

  • Kafka
    Jan 13, 2012 - 11:45AM

    A very brave article. Lets keep Saleem Shahzad and all those brave people alive who lost their lives in the quest for truth by remembering them every now and then.

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  • Kay
    Jan 13, 2012 - 11:58AM

    How about first telling the government to make the report public, then reading it and then telling the government to trash it.

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  • Salman Abbasy
    Jan 13, 2012 - 12:31PM

    Bravo, Kamran Shafi, for speaking up. It was my privilege to have authorised issuance of Saleem Shahzad’s press accreditation in the face of stiff opposition from the Deep State’s media managers in 2000-01. Even at that time they avoided putting their strong views in writing that could be traced back to them. Saleem, God bless his brave soul, thought I was the bold one.

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  • Jan 13, 2012 - 12:31PM

    what if he were an american and would be doing all this stuff against CIA ???? what would happen to him? what truth 9/11 commissions have brought to public???
    Situation is same everywhere. so dont be upset.

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  • Feroz
    Jan 13, 2012 - 12:59PM

    The Commission must be congratulated on its investigative abilities. When one of the family of Commission members goes missing, who will they approach ?

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  • Aarvey
    Jan 13, 2012 - 2:36PM

    RIP …saleem. May God give his family the strength to bear this loss. KS sahib please take care. These butchers have no heart.Recommend

  • Kamran Shafi
    Jan 13, 2012 - 3:27PM

    @JustAnotherPakistani: Please research before yelling for the fireman: ‘So and so has been disappeared by so and so’ is now in common usage. Read and ye shall find …

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  • Aryabhat
    Jan 13, 2012 - 3:46PM

    Thank you Mr Shafi for calling this spade a spade! I have always seen you as a brave man and I wish other Journalists would also speak up like you/take a stand!

    Else this story would be tragically repeated!

    “Those who forget the history are condemned to repeat it”

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  • Lobster
    Jan 13, 2012 - 4:09PM

    Following comment from “mind control” in related news item described the scenario best:

    The Lord Be Praised! We are witness to a miracle here. A man gets murdered without anyone killing him and he then drives his car for hundreds of Kilometers without any one getting any wiser and then the body disposes off itself without any help from any human agency. We have Forensic experts who by looking at an unsigned memo can find out ‘proof’ of its origin and even such experts are confounded by the Miraculous Murder of Saleem Shahzad.

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  • ahmed
    Jan 13, 2012 - 4:48PM

    i dnt agree with writer because the inquiry was conducted by independent commission if they are not blaming ISI or any other agency.why writer is bent upon blaming secret services for this inhuman act.i also have a doubt on the saleem shahzad because his roots links to anti Pakistan elements as i go through his articles.writer should not support baseless blames.

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  • Aarvey
    Jan 13, 2012 - 5:41PM

    @ahmed: can you elaborate on which anti Pakistani elements he had contacts with. His writings reveal an in-depth relationship between the ISI and taliban and like minded characters. Yes you may be right, these characters are anti Pakistan.

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  • AZW
    Jan 13, 2012 - 6:53PM

    Dear Kamran:

    Thanks for a biting and hard-hitting article. It is directed exactly where the dominant suspicion directs. The fact that there are people like you, Ali Dayan Hasan, and Hameed Haroon (not to mention many many more courageous ones in Pakistan) who speak openly shows there is a silver lining to the misery of a state that is always held hostage by its so-called ideological guardians.

    There was one line in your article that made me think again and again. You said: “In the end, nothing was gained by Shahzad’s horrific killing”. You are correct. Nothing was gained, absolutely nothing. Nothing was ever gained by countering political or journalistic dissidence by murders. It worked/works only in closed societies where terror is the norm, not the exception. Or it works in a country where the state puts so-called security and stability above anything else. In the modern day and age, as the uncomfortable reality of the pesky human rights increasingly disturb the ideological guardians of the state, these senseless murders only point towards the limited abilities of those who silenced these voices.

    A great sage once wryly remarked: “It is weakness rather than wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power”. He was right. The men who ordered Shehzad killed were weak, unsecure due their helplessness against his stinging pen. They just can’t fathom how futile their lack of vision has resulted in getting them one failure after another

    Most of their workers are salaried people, who are more focused on earning ranks, money and privileges than to even step back once and consider where they are employed by organizations that are supposed to serve and protect, not subvert and silence. These are small people, conditioned to only think tactically, small baby steps that help them feel secure for the next day. They show no vision, no appreciation of history, no sense of posterity to the powerful examples in history that liberty and security are not mutually exclusive. They are small people who are above all, likely to be shown as utterly weaklings by the future annals of history. Recommend

  • HPT
    Jan 13, 2012 - 10:57PM

    @Feroz:
    Err…., the Supreme Court, maybe?

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  • Sabir
    Jan 14, 2012 - 1:09AM

    @DB
    How naive!

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  • Ex-Karachite
    Jan 14, 2012 - 9:19AM

    I have doubts about Saleem Shahzad’s Patriotism……Why on earth was he bent upon revealing something which was not in the interest of the nation? Even if military had contacts with Militants was it not for the benefit of Pakistan and it’s interests ?

    Is whatever US is doing fair ? The attack on Iraq and Afghanistan ? and all the problems they are creating around the world with their mischiefs

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  • R S JOHAR
    Jan 14, 2012 - 10:53AM

    The author’s analysis is crystal clear to prove who is the real culprit. Democracy can never succeed in Pakistan as long as there is blatant interference and un-interrupted high-handedness by this establishment.

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  • Khan Saab
    Jan 15, 2012 - 2:55PM

    Why don’t a dozen of powerful anchors stop airing their programs for a couple of days under protest? Do you really need PM to help you money loving community?

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