Journalist murder: Saleem Shahzad laid to rest in Karachi

Published: June 1, 2011
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Relatives and members of the media carry the coffin of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad at the airport in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

Relatives and members of the media carry the coffin of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad at the airport in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Senior journalist Saleem Shahzad was laid to rest in the Qayyumabad graveyard of Karachi on Wednesday.

Earlier his funeral prayers were offered at Mubarak Mosque in which hundreds of people including family members and friends participated.

Hundreds of mourners turned out for the burial of Shahzad, who was tortured and said he was threatened by the country’s intelligence services, as his colleagues demanded protection.

Saleem Shahzad, a 40-year-old father of three, vanished after leaving home in Islamabad to appear on a television talk show, two days after writing an article about links between rogue elements of the navy and al Qaeda.

His grief-stricken relatives have demanded a full investigation but have not apportioned blame for his killing, which came five years after he was briefly kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan and accused of being a spy.

Shahzad carved out a career writing about the plethora of militant networks operating in Pakistan, and warned human rights campaigners before his disappearance that he had been threatened by the Inter-Services Intelligence.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned his murder and said his “reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan’s stability”.

Shahzad’s body was found Tuesday, about 150 kilometres (93 miles) southeast of Islamabad.

Police said it bore marks of torture.”The cause of death is torture and there are several signs of torture on his body and face,” said Ashok Kumar, one of the doctors who carried out a post-mortem at Islamabad’s Pakistan Institute of Medical Science.

Another doctor told AFP that Shahzad’s lungs and liver had been damaged, and that the body was swollen and bore more than 15 signs of having been beaten.

Around 300 people, mostly relatives and journalists, attended the funeral prayers and Shahzad was buried in a local cemetery in the well-off Seaview neighbourhood in his home town of Karachi.

“We have lost everything. What can we do now?” sobbed his son, Fahad Saleem, resting on the shoulder of an uncle.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists announced two days of mourning and a spokesman said members would organise protests nationwide on Friday.

“I can’t blame anyone at the moment. I’ll analyse the whole episode before making any statement,” Wasim Fawad, a brother of Shahzad, told AFP.

“My brother was killed for writing the truth. He paid a huge price, he sacrificed his life but always spoke the truth.”

Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed that a police investigation had been ordered and promised a reward of nearly $30,000.

But reporters and press groups say previous enquiries into the killings of journalists have not been made public and said they expected little this time.Reporters Without Borders says that 16 journalists have now been killed since the start of 2010 in Pakistan, which it ranks 151st out of 178 countries in its press freedom index.

Malik says allegations of ISI involvement to be probed

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has given his assurance to probe allegations of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) involvement in the abduction of journalist Saleem Shehzad.

Malik was speaking to the media after visiting the residence of Shehzad.

Ali Dayan Hasan, Human Rights Watch (HRW) representative in Pakistan, has been quoted in Asia Times Online as saying that he suspected that Shehzad had been picked up by the intelligence agency.

Hasan says Shehzad had sent him an email in October 18, a day after he claimed to have met ISI personnel at their headquarters who had asked him about a source for a separate story. The email says he had refused to disclose his source despite threats from the personnel.

Shehzad had asked Hasan to release the email in case of his death as he feared something would happen to him.

Shahzad, 40, who worked for an Italian news agency and an online news site registered in Hong Kong, went missing on Sunday. His body was found on Tuesday.

He disappeared two days after writing in an investigative report in Asia Times Online that al Qaeda carried out last week’s attack on a naval air base to avenge the arrest of naval officials suspected of having links to the group.

US condemns killing

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday condemned the abduction and murder of Shahzad.

“The United States strongly condemns the abduction and killing of reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad,” she said in a statement.

“His work reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan’s stability,” she said.

Clinton said Washington welcomed Pakistan’s launch of a probe into the killing.

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Reader Comments (25)

  • king
    Jun 1, 2011 - 12:09PM

    Mr. rahman malik is the same person who compared the attackers with star war characters on the basis of black colored outfits. Recommend

  • kiran
    Jun 1, 2011 - 1:10PM

    Pakistan killed its Socrates…being an Indian, I am deeply disturbed at the silencing this admirable reporter who dared to go to places where others fear…his articles were free of emotion, dispassionate…a true fredrick forsythe type reporter…

    He is one of the very few admirable heroes from Pakistan !!

    With his murder, Pakistan has sealed its fate as a failed state !!!Recommend

  • Dajjal
    Jun 1, 2011 - 1:22PM

    Mr. Rehman Malik should know probing the “ISI’s Involvement'” in anything is a bad idea, and may lead to future headlines like “Rehman Malik disappears on his way to Work” and later “Rehman Malik’s Car Found 60 miles outside Islamabad along with a beheaded body…” and finally “DNA test Confirm its Rehman Malik”. So in the interest of self preservation he should say “RAW /CIA & the Zionists did it”.Recommend

  • maestro
    Jun 1, 2011 - 2:10PM

    Kiran – the problem is the ISI which has been crazy foreign elements like arabs and most importantly the insane General Zia after their participation in the Afghan war. We have fought one war for the west already and are fighting another now. And as an Indian, statements like “Pakistan is a failed state” show your hate to us. Come to Islamabad or Lahore and you will not be able to compare them to Delhi or Kolkata! If India wants to be friends, stop statements like these and give us just a word of support. Recommend

  • Ahsan Mansoor
    Jun 1, 2011 - 2:53PM

    Only if, Rehman Malik could be trusted.Recommend

  • Jun 1, 2011 - 3:07PM

    @kiran:
    Socrates? Our butter polishing havent left us when our English masters have moved out.Recommend

  • Asif Raza Khaskheli
    Jun 1, 2011 - 3:11PM

    This was immense cowardly act by the Agency very disappointing and sad, may his soul rest in peaceRecommend

  • Arslan
    Jun 1, 2011 - 3:24PM

    @kiran:
    Socrates ? Na bro, it was Schopenhauer & Immanuel Kant & Plato in da hood.
    More seriously, the whole purpose of your comment was to put ‘failed state’, here or there, isn’t it ? Appreciated, caring neighbour.Recommend

  • MAS
    Jun 1, 2011 - 4:24PM

    The dilemma with the mimic journalists of pygmy English media in Pakistan is that they give decision before the investigation. Same is the case with this story. It’s too early to assume that ISI or any other agency is responsible for the death of the reporter. Let the government complete the investigations and till then, our stupid reporters should learn that objectivity and impartiality are main norms and they should also avoid using rumors as news-stories. And Mr. Kiran, India is much bigger example of being Failed State in the world with its centrifugal forces fighting for their democratic rights and Hindu cabal is using democracy as a tool to crush Muslims, Christians and Sikhs in all over the India. Don’t worry about Pakistan we are secure; think about your own fragile future.Recommend

  • sikandar
    Jun 1, 2011 - 4:32PM

    R.I.P Shehzad, you are one hell of a writer and a brave one too.Recommend

  • Kamran
    Jun 1, 2011 - 5:12PM

    May God bless his soul in peace! my question is, as there are allegations that ISI killed the journalist, so is the ISI so dumb that it would leave the body and other evidence out in the open?? i wasn’t surprised when the allegations started coming out, and all the sources pointed east. Reference: Toronoto Star was the first daily to report this from its “New Delhi” desk!!Recommend

  • Abbas from the US
    Jun 1, 2011 - 5:34PM

    Out of the ordinary jounalist. Was capable of relaying the complexities of the various players involved. As for who murdered him the whole world knows it and is talking about it.
    The nay sayers and deniers are the usual brainwashed lot, who would blame it on the CIA, the Mossad and the RAW. Kiran is probably right that if Pakistan has not sealed its fate, it is on the slippery slopes heading towards the inevitable.Recommend

  • NIda Haque
    Jun 1, 2011 - 6:16PM

    True Valor – a worthy life and an even worthier death – may he be blessed and his family treated with honor and care that the nation owes them. Recommend

  • AR
    Jun 1, 2011 - 7:28PM

    @MAS: When was the last time when a government investigation in Pakistan produced any results? A reporter’s objectivity must only be truth, nothing but truth ,without disclosing his feelings about the story, he is writing. Beside Pakistan is a home of rumor mills and conspiracy theories. Majority of Pakistani nation has hard time accepting truth, especially when the truth does not help their preconceived ideas of “objectivity”. Recommend

  • yugal
    Jun 1, 2011 - 7:45PM

    hi, i’m also indian but i dont hate pakistan. but as your govt policies and army rule its just around indians. if there is a lot of problems are availabe 4 minorities in india the why shahrukh aamir and salman is here and why pakistani singers and actors are coming and making money. india is a much better country in the world to live free and with prestige. Recommend

  • Mustafa
    Jun 1, 2011 - 8:13PM

    May Allah give you Paradise Syed. And may He help your family through this hard time. You are a TRUE martyr who died for championing the truth. Your legacy is a proud one for your children, and your killers must be brought to justice. Your blood will be like water and shall sprout the seeds of courage, honesty, and integrity and will wake up the nation. Recommend

  • Jun 1, 2011 - 8:37PM

    So sorry for thatRecommend

  • Jun 1, 2011 - 8:55PM

    Large number of people assembled around his coffin
    and pray to Allah for His blessing for him.
    The people committed this heinous crime never escaped
    from the God’s anger,
    the day of judgement is a head.Recommend

  • Jun 1, 2011 - 9:00PM

    More sacrifices would be given
    then our new generation take breath of peace.Recommend

  • Jun 1, 2011 - 9:07PM

    People,with tearful eyes,extending both hands toward the sky
    praying for him.
    I saw many of them watching toward the sky,where shahzad’s soul
    was smiling feeling their love.Recommend

  • Jun 1, 2011 - 9:10PM

    Have to wait for centuries,
    then such fact finder comes,
    but they know nothing,they are hired killers.Recommend

  • Jun 1, 2011 - 9:18PM

    @yugal:
    Dear yugal.I really appreciate ur comments,but it is fact that indian govt: has never accepted pak since 1947.We all r peaceful & no hate with any country, if we have extremist,u have a large scale of such,e.g BJP,Bajrang dal shive saina, bal thakray etc . such element dont want peace, u see indian dams on pak water, this will damage pak agriculture, as regards shahrukh khan amar khan, salman, they r ur citizens, I think indian muslims r patriotc as other indians and they must be coz of their homeland. pak will be better country when involvement of others in our matters will be stopped,others r america & ur raw. pl, dont mind.Recommend

  • Jun 1, 2011 - 9:56PM

    What steps will everyday ordinary Pakistanis take to protect journalists and their families, seeing that the authorities are either unwilling or incompetent?Recommend

  • yugal
    Jun 1, 2011 - 10:49PM

    @jameelsiraj:
    Jameel i just want to tell u and entire nation that all is the dirty politics and media only there is not a single issue btwn the country. and yes in 1947 we didnt want pakistan with hate. becoz u was our part we were sharing single history with each other. i also want to tell u that here there is no difference betwn hindu and muslim. more then 75 per are hindu here but BJP is not in the central govt. come to lucknou, hyderabad or banaras. zahir khan has same respact as harbhajan here. dont relate indians with these shivsena.Recommend

  • yugal
    Jun 1, 2011 - 10:58PM

    @Mustafa:
    im also with u all. these polititians are making money and army men is involved in taking defence budget in their pockets. america and other world wants to make business here therefore giving aid to pakistan(polititian and army) and making money through selling arms to india(nuclear energy). come out india and pakistan from here plez we can again create safe heaven here for our next generation.Recommend

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