Four days ago, Saleem Shahzad, a journalist working for the Asia Times, penned this report on the extent of al-Qaeda’s infiltration in the Navy at lower levels, and how the attack on PNS-Mehran tied into an investigation of the same. At the top of the story, we read that “this is the first article in a two-part report”. How wrong he was.
Two days ago, Saleem Shahzad disappeared.
Today, he re-appeared, dead.
I am more angry than sad right now. I literally cannot believe that the ISI acted with such impunity. They can pick someone one up, torture and murder them, and expect absolutely no legal recrimination.
Remember, these people’s job is to protect us. But they torture and kill us, and protect Osama bin Laden and Hafiz Saeed instead.
They do this in Balochistan most every day, what with student activists, nationalists, and regular party workers ending up in gutters, but they have made the entirely rational calculation that no one in Pakistan cares about Balochistan — watch the video in this Cafe Pyala post if you don’t believe me. This feels somehow different, because his abduction was front page news. And yet they still went ahead and killed him.
When Saleem Shahzad disappeared, I honestly thought he’d just get beaten up and abused, like they did Umar Cheema. I never actually considered the possibility that they would kill him, especially when Human Rights Watch had “credible” information that he had been picked up by the ISI.
I suppose it’s too much to ask anyone to actually investigate this. Our “independent” judiciary stopped making a fuss about missing people when it was no longer politically convenient to do so, i.e when Musharraf was no longer around. I expect more of the same here.
Update: Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch has forwarded me an email that the late Shahzad had forwarded to him in October 2010 with the words “I am forwarding this email to you for your record only if in case something happens to me or my family in future.”
(Beginning of email)
For future reference:
Meeting details as on October 17, 2010 at the ISI headquarters Islamabad between DG Media Wing ISI, Rear Admiral Adnan Nazir and Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Bureau Chief Pakistan for Asia Times Online (Hong Kong). Commodore Khalid Pervaiz, the Deputy Director General of Media Wing ISI was also present during the conversation.
Agenda of the meeting: discussion on Asia Times Online story published on October 15, 2010, titled Pakistan frees Taliban commander (see http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LJ16Df02.html).
The meeting discussed the following issues.
1-Syed Saleem Shahzad told Rear Admiral Adnan that an intelligence channel leaked the story. However, he added that story was published only after a confirmation from the most credible Taliban source. Syed also explained that DG ISPR was sent a text message about the story, but he did not respond.
2- Rear Admiral Adnan Nazir had the view that story caused a lot of embracement for the country but observed that issuing a denial from the government side is no solution. He suggested Syed Saleem Shahzad should write a denial of the story.
3- Syed Shahzad refused to comply with demand and termed it impractical.
4-Rear Admiral Adnan was curious to know the source of the story as it is a shame that information would leak from the office of a high profile intelligence service.
5- Syed Shahzad called it an intelligence leak but did not specify the source.
6-The conversation was held in an extremely polite and friendly atmosphere and there was no mince word in the room at any stage. Rear Admiral Adnan Nazir also offered Syed Saleem Shahzad a favor in following words.
“I must give you a favor. We have recently arrested a terrorist and have recovered a lot of data, dairies and other material during the interrogation. The terrorist had a hit list with him. If I find your name in the list, I will certainly let you know,”
(end of email)
Update II: An earlier version of this post credited Declan Walsh for the photo above; it is actually courtesy Abbas Nasir Shahzad’s Facebook page.