Saleem Shahzad Case: As family struggles, authorities drag their feet

Family of Saleem Shahzad forced to move out of their rented residences in Islamabad and relocate to Karachi.


Asad Kharal June 09, 2011

LAHORE:


With events continuously conspiring against them, the family of slain journalist Saleem Shahzad has been forced to move out of their rented residence in Islamabad and relocate to Karachi, The Express Tribune has learnt.


Shahzad’s widow and their three children Fahad Saleem, 13, Amna Saleem, 10, and Rehman Shah, seven, were forced to give up their residence because they could no longer afford the rent. Meanwhile, to make matters worse, ten days after his death, the Islamabad and Punjab police still remain undecided on registering further cases of abduction and murder to the case of the slain journalist.

While the family of the journalist, who continued his quest to uncover the truth despite threats to his life, in dire straits, the authorities are yet to contact the family for compensation and legal assistance.

Shahzad owned three bank accounts, none of which can be accessed by his widow yet, since the authorities have failed to provide her with a successor certificate.

Sub Inspector Shafiq Ahmed at the Islamabad police station, investigation officer for the case Moharrar and an official of the records room at the said police station Naveed allegedly remained uncooperative in terms of receiving the application/ supplementary statement for adding a murder charge (under section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code) to it.

Only after two lawyers intervened in the matter did the investigation officer “reluctantly” receive the application, Hamza Ameer, Shahzad’s brother-in-law told The Express Tribune.

The application submitted by complainant Hamza Ameer, Shahzad’s brother-in-law, addressed to the Margalla police station SHO, requested that a murder charge  be included in the complaint, as it was initially lodged under Section 365 of the PPC, which was when Shahzad had gone missing.

According to Ameer, the investigation officer said that the case file had been referred to the legal branch for its opinion regarding whether a murder charge should be added at the Margalla police station where the complaint was first filed when Shahzad went missing, or at the Mandi Bahauddin police station where the body was recovered and a case was registered against unidentified persons for torturing a person to death.

Meanwhile, the investigation officer sub inspector Ahmed said that because the eyewitnesses, police officials, and medical officers belonged to Mandi Bahauddin, and since a separate murder case had been registered at the Saddar Mandi Bahauddin police station, it was likely that the murder charge would not be included at the Margalla police station. However, he added that the final decision would be taken after seeking legal opinion.

A three-member committee headed by DIG Shoaib Dastageer, along with other committee members visited Shahzad’s house in Islamabad to record Ameer’s statement.

The team questioned Ameer about whether Shahzad had an enmity with any individual, institution, or organisation, and later said that because the case was still in the initial stage, they could not blame any particular institution, organisation or individual without concrete evidence.

Ameer told the committee that Shahzad had no personal enmities, and that his reporting was the probable cause for his death.

The chief minister had directed the IGP to constitute a three-member committee with Dastageer in charge and submit a report to him within three days. However, ten days into Shahzad’s murder, the committee is yet to hand over its report.

When asked about it, DIG Dastageer said that the deadline for the probe was unimportant, and starting the probe in order for the investigation to reach a logical end was the bigger issue.

Ameer said that aside from Interior Minister Rehman Malik no other government functionary had contacted Shahzad’s family, nor had anyone announced a compensation for the aggrieved widow and children.

The future of Shahzad’s widow and his children remains uncertain as with each passing day they realise they have no one to turn to.

According to Ameer, when Malik visited the slain journalist’s house, he assured the family that the government would bear all expenses in terms of flying Shahzad’s body out from Islamabad to Karachi. Malik had told the family that the government would take on the responsibility of paying for the children’s education, cover the family’s health expenses and provide them with other basic necessities. However, with each passing day, the interior minister’s promises appear hollower, Ameer said.









Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2011.

COMMENTS (15)

kulamarva balakrishna | 10 years ago | Reply Vienna,14-06-2011 Hi "SECURITY" is the sole responsibility of the ARMED FORCES and Rangers in shooting point blank range is security of pure Islamic citizens of the only proud nuclear power in the world,where no FOREIGN BOOTS ARE WELCOME.FOREIGN AIDS ARE ABSOLUTELY OPEN FOR DISTRIBUTION AMONG THE ARMED FORCES AND INTER SERVICES INTELLIGENCE STAFF AND AGENTS.I know Ischia Prize Foundation has invited Mrs.Shahzad to accept Journalism Excellence Award on July 8 and 9 on behalf of her murdered herbend Syed Saleem Shahzad.My efforts are to get international security for Mrs.Shahzad and the kids.I know Ischia Foundation award is not only citation but also some peanuts worth 2,500 EUROs. It is not clear if she gets it since the statute of the Foundation makes it obligatory for the award winner personally collect the funds. On that count the foundation announcement is silent.I hope Pakistan´s Working Journalists Federation appeals to the Ischia Foundation to make an exception on humanitarian grounds. My Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring,TTTMM appeals to all readers,especially Pakistani show compassion and offer help in the short term. -Kulamarva Balakrishna
Shareef | 10 years ago | Reply Dear All, Having gone through all the comments I was surprised that it all talked about the financial element of the article. I would request you all to go back and see the other aspect that is more important to the family 'SECURITY'. I would like to see more comments that should be solution oriented to this problem. Leaving Islamabad and moving to Karachi may not be the option for them considering the security situation in Karachi.
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