Who killed Saleem Shahzad?

Published: January 12, 2012
The commission has also shown Mr Shahzad’s killers, whoever they may be, that they can operate with impunity.  PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The commission has also shown Mr Shahzad’s killers, whoever they may be, that they can operate with impunity. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

The purpose of government commissions, it seems, is to obfuscate rather than illuminate. They exist not to investigate but to give the impression of hard work. So, it was in the case of the judicial commission investigating the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad. The commission was supposed to find out who was responsible for the killing but in its final report has declined to do so. It was meant to wrap up in six weeks but has ended up taking six months. In the end, all the suspicions everyone had after Mr Shahzad was murdered remain but we are no closer to the truth. The commission has recommended giving Rs3 million in compensation to the dead journalist’s family but it has denied them the opportunity of getting justice.

The investigative process of the commission was flawed from the start. It faced inordinate and unexplainable delays in getting Mr Shahzad’s email and cell phone data, information that may have been crucial in solving his case but which could well have been scrubbed of anything incriminating by the intelligence agencies. When he was murdered, the initial reaction among journalists and human rights groups was to blame the military, since Mr Shahzad’s reporting focused on its alleged ties to militants. Indeed, just two days before he was killed, he had written a story on the infiltration of al Qaeda in the Pakistan Navy. The commission’s inconclusive report will do little to allay those suspicions.

By failing its mandate, the judicial commission has also failed in its task to help out vulnerable journalists. Having seen that a prominent reporter can be killed with no consequences for those involved is sure to have a chilling effect on the profession. Will those who report critically on the military refrain from doing so in the future for fear that they may end up in a ditch somewhere? The commission has also shown Mr Shahzad’s killers, whoever they may be, that they can operate with impunity. Already, Pakistan has been described as the most dangerous place in the world for journalists by Reporters without Frontiers, with 10 journalists having been killed here in the last decade. The failure of the commission may have ended up making it just a little more dangerous.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Roflcopter
    Jan 12, 2012 - 12:52AM

    wow seriously just let it go, ISI wasn’t involved and your wishes of ISI being blamed in this report went unfulfilled…now stop crying.


  • Cautious
    Jan 12, 2012 - 1:36AM

    The Commission was certainly flawed — but so was the rest of the news media that let this issue fall off the front page.Recommend

  • Usman
    Jan 12, 2012 - 2:31AM

    @roflcopter. Seriously? ISI wasnt involved? this case has got “WARNING: ISI INVOLVED” written all over it. No one is going to touch this case with a pole.


  • Roflcopter
    Jan 12, 2012 - 3:28AM

    @Usman, not at all


  • RajX
    Jan 12, 2012 - 3:43AM

    Who killed saleem shahzad? I don’t know but I know that it’s definitely not the infamous nonstate actors or the Taliban. That leaves out one group who may have done it and no I am not talking about RAW or the zionists.


  • uzma Baig
    Jan 12, 2012 - 6:57AM

    well ISI involved or not, every one speaking against the only institute keeping pakistan intact should end up in a ditch, when army soldiers can die saving the country, civilians can also die cluelessly speaking against its army. 10 journalists died in the last decade in pakistan, well 4000 soldiers and officers have died saving the country in the last decadeRecommend

  • ashok sai
    Jan 12, 2012 - 9:08AM


    With people like you, Pakistan sure to achieve its new tag, ‘Somalistan’.


  • sick of this nonsense
    Jan 12, 2012 - 9:33AM

    Reading your comments is like banging ones head against the wall.


  • Pakistani in US
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:08AM

    @Roflcopter, if tomorrow extend the same favour towards you, we will tell your family the same thing to chill out and let it go. You should be ashamed of your stance towards loss of a precious human life.Recommend

  • Sadia
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:11AM

    an absolutely brutal and insensitive comment. we pakistanis are so axiomatic in our approach…’we know’, ‘everybody knows’. never question ‘do we really know?’ and if so, ‘how do we know?’. but then that’s the behaviour of rational societies….


  • Pakistani in US
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:15AM

    @uzma Baig You need to educate yourself about the difference between the Army generals, ISI and the soldiers on ground (Jawans). Not all segments are rouge (for example jawans just do what they are told)Recommend

  • Feroz
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:22AM

    At least the Commission did not come to the conclusion that Saleem Shahzad committed suicide. Congratulations to all members of the Commission, they will realize their folly when a member of their family disappears and body is discovered after a few days.
    Pakistan Zindabad !


  • mind control
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:34AM

    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.

  • Mirza
    Jan 12, 2012 - 11:46AM

    @mind control: love your comments! I had posted some similar comments last night but they did not make it.
    Thanks and regards,


    Jan 12, 2012 - 12:40PM

    Thank God the Commission did not say that Saleem Shahzad committed suicide!!!!


  • Scorpio
    Jan 12, 2012 - 1:21PM

    @ Rofl copter: Let it go? why should we? if we keep letting go of such things, THEY will be further emboldened. There will be nothing left to read beyond the Press Releases from the ISPR.


  • Uzma Baig
    Jan 12, 2012 - 3:46PM

    @Pakistani in US:
    you missed my point, probably you need to understand the difference between true honest journalism and fabricated, sponsored propaganda. When you do you wouldnt feel sorry for the loss of certain people as a sacrfice to save pakistan as we accept dieing soldiers as a price to save the country.


  • Light
    Jan 12, 2012 - 4:52PM

    thats the reason no one wants the memo investigation from “parliamantry commission”

    similar thing happens to FC commision, abottabad commission
    these so called elected representative has no intelect or courage to complete such investigation..all they need is TA/DA

    but then people with jiyala mind set dont understand this :)


  • Salman
    Jan 12, 2012 - 10:23PM

    Prove that ISI was involved you all losers above ?


  • asif
    Jan 12, 2012 - 11:02PM

    how can we prove? can we interrogate every suspects and examine secret documents. That was the job of the commission. Even a Lahore Sub Inspector would have done a better job.


  • Salman
    Jan 13, 2012 - 12:09AM

    Asif if you cant than better not to blame anyone with out any proof. If commission is not transparent than the case should be taken to the court. Its a vogue in Pakistan these days to blame everything on ISI just like on Amrrreeeikkaa, RAW, Mosaad, Taliban, Osama, Aliens etc etc


  • Jan 13, 2012 - 1:43AM

    @IFTIKHAR-UR-REHMAN: I didn’t think of that but you are right! A truly cynical commission would have done just that. No, these are men whose lips are 95% sealed with wax.

    One must now expose who is responsible for this to direct one’s ire appropriately.


  • John
    Jan 13, 2012 - 4:11AM

    @uzma Baig:

    r u saying that gives someone right to kill a journalist ?


  • Eff Kay
    Jan 13, 2012 - 11:55AM

    At least wait for the report to be released, read it and then make up your mind. Instead of declaiming against it, put pressure on the government to make the report public.


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