Murder of Fearless & Reliable Pak Journalist

By Lt Col Zaheerul Hassan (R)

A fearless, reliable, investigator – Pakistani Journalist and author of the book “In side Al-Qaeda and the Taliban” Saleem Shahzad has been abducted from Islamabad and killed brutally by some unknown hands. His dead body has been found on canal bank near Rasul Head works in Mandi Bahauddin, 80 miles south-east of the capital.

Nir Rosen, author of “The Triumph of the Martyer: A reporter’s Journey into Occupied Iraq mentioned in the review of recently released deceased‘s book that Shahzad is the most fearless and reliable journalist covering Pakistan and Afghanistan, that’s why his work read even in the halls of the Pentagon.

He also narrated that no journalist passing through Pakistan should miss an opportunity to talk to him and nobody ignored in the region, in Al-Qaeda or in the Taliban can afford to ignore his work. Pakistan’s President Zardari and Prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, expressed his “deep grief and sorrow” over Shahzad’s death and ordered an inquiry, saying that “the culprits would be brought to book at every cost”.

According to foreign media reports Shazhad has also been able to penetrate in the lines of the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda. In this connection, he visited no go areas of FATA too. He also met Sirajuddin Haqqani, Chief of Haqqani Group, Ilyas Kashmiri and many Al-Qaeda top level strategists and fighters in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. The deceased journalist was a known critic of ISI like many other s writers, journalists and anchors of electronic and print media but on the other hand was also enjoying good reputation in Pentagon and adversary’s think tanks.

Anyhow, we should find out the possible causes and facts of this murder because whatever the case may be, such types of extra judicious killings in the presence of Independent courts are not at all acceptable to the respectable society.

While investigating Shahzad’s murder: his past history, writings pattern, current story about foreign sponsored raid on PN Base, meeting with Al-Qaeda top leaders llays Kashmiri and Haqani group, prevailing country’s security environment, recently released book, meetings with local intelligence agencies’ individuals, visiting Western and American embassies have to be evaluated and investigated before determining the probable conclusion of the case. I view this murder in the light of three possibilities;

(First Possibility). Why should ISI be interested to eliminate Shazad only in the presence of many others hardliners who criticize ISI and security agencies openly. An English newspaper “The Guardian” tried to implicate ISI in the murder while referring Shahzad’s meetings with two ISI high officials. I think meetings of ISI officials with journalists, think tanks and scholars are very much part of routine official commitments since exchange of information from horses’ mouths in such type of meetings does help the opinion makers in understanding the true motives of our adversaries. It is further added here that similar nature of briefings, coordination and meetings are also being held between Pentagon, CIA, MI-6, RAW and think tanks of locals and foreign journalists. Anyhow ISI sources confirmed that meeting with the journalist ad has been held in the past in a very pleasant environment and no such threat has been given to the Shaheed Shazad by them. Moreover, Shahzad has also not mentioned of any kind of threat from ISI to him in the quoted  email by some foreign and local media group .

The pattern of Saleem Shahzad writings clearly divides his writings into two phases. His early media pieces do indicate that Shahzad’s was lacking knowledge and motives of our adversaries regarding state sensitive assets. Therefore, he unexpectedly used to criticise security agencies and nuclear porgramme and thus circuitously fulfilling foreign agenda. On this he probably briefed and guided by our highest intelligence agency at highest level.

From there onward his written stuff has never been found objectionable and even found to be protecting national interest in his published reports. Therefore, alleging and maligning ISI in abducting and murdering of Shahzad’s is the part of foreign agenda i.e. weakening and targeting the most vital organ of Pakistan’s security. It is also added here that his reports regarding PN base incident and OBL killing don’t indicate his undue criticism against security agencies. Moreover, his stories on mentioned issues have not attained much popularity in the media because of lacks of facts. In this regard many famous anchors very bluntly found critcising ISI, Navy and Pakistan Army so elimination of second class journalist by the ISI is not understood.

(Second Possibility) Shahzad has recently released his book “Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban”. In this connection, he had interviewed some of the most famous leaders, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, and Ilyas Kashmiri, allegedly works for al-Qaida. The book exposed various Al-Qaeda networks which made his personality dubious and controversial figures in the eyes of those fighters who are operating against NATO and American in Afghanistan. Thus, they abducted and eliminated considering him an agent of America. It is also notable here that most of the American and western scholars declared him a courageous and popular journalist who disclosed number of facts about Al-Qaeda.

(Third Possibility) Though Pakistan and U.S. apparently kept on claiming each other as their front line allies but due to various U.S. actions like interfering in Balochistan and joining hands with India manifold the already existed trust deficit continued between two countries. However, the differences between the agencies of two countries and their intelligence agencies (CIA & ISI) further deteriorated after U.S. unilateral operation in Abbottabad (killing of OBL) and PN base tragedy. CIA got chance to speed up the propaganda against ISI and Pakistan security forces while using the specific section of media. American, Indian and foreign sponsored traitors started anti army and ISI campaign. Thus to fuel the anti ISI campaign further CIA in collaboration with RAW probably kidnapped the journalist and later on killed him with the purpose of implicating local agencies in the murder of Shahzad.
Anyhow apparently, it is being felt that third possibility has been materialized in the murder of Slaeem Shazad but off course there is a need to have proper investigations in the case.

At the end, I would like to suggest to media managers, politicians, and members of civil societies to display responsibilities and come out to unite the nation, instead toeing the foreign media’s lines. Media groups should not avoid alleging important security organs while cooking fairy tales. Governments should also hold independent inquiry and devise media policy for facts finding and streamlining the procedures so that recurrence of any incident could be avoided in future.

The writer can be approached through

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