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.