Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes a promise by Pakistan’s
Government to establish a judicial commission headed by a Supreme Court judge,
as demanded by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in response to
the murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad last week.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik
informed PFUJ president Pervaiz Shaukat that the Government would ask Chief
Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to nominate a judge to head the commission.
It is the first time such a body has been established in Pakistan.
The commission, which IFJ affiliate
the PFUJ had demanded be set up by June 10, will also comprise the Deputy
Inspector-General (DIG) of Police (Operations) in Islamabad, an inspector general from Punjab
province, and a PFUJ representative, according to the PFUJ.
“The IFJ commends the commitment of
Pakistan’s leadership to fully investigate the murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad,
and looks forward to seeing the Government present a schedule setting prompt
deadlines for the commission to reports its findings to the public,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“We expect the commission to provide
concrete recommendations to bring to justice the killers of Shahzad and also
the many other brave journalists murdered in Pakistan, and to send a loud
message to the criminals who shelter under gross impunity that they will no
longer get away with enacting violence against journalists.”
Journalists across Pakistan have expressed their outrage since
Shahzad’s beaten body was found about 150km southeast of Islamabad on May 31. Shahzad disappeared in Islamabad on May 29, two
days after he published on Asia Times
Online an investigative report into alleged links between Al-Qaeda and
Pakistani naval officials.
The PFUJ’s demands for the
commission were backed by nation-wide protests on June 3, and followed appeals
from the IFJ and other organisations around the world for the Government to act
promptly to investigate the murder of Shahzad and other Pakistani journalists.
Information Minister Firdaus Ashiq
Awan told protesters outside the Parliament in Islamabad that the Government was committed
to protecting media personnel and striving for press freedom.
Protests also held in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar were led by leaders
of the PFUJ and district unions, and joined by members of the Council of
Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE)
and I.A. Rehman, the secretary-general of the Human Rights Commission of
the Khyber Union of Journalists also demanded a full inquiry into the murder of
Nasrullah Khan Afridi, who was killed in a targeted car-bomb blast in Peshawar on May 10.
In a separate incident, the IFJ
joined the PFUJ in raising concerns about the unexplained detention on June 2 of
Saleem Rehman Afridi, a journalist with PACT Radio, which covers issues in the
Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas.
Afridi, who is not closely related
to Nasrullah Khan Afridi and has worked for PACT Radio in the Bara area of
Khyber Agency for two years, continues to be detained by police at the Sarband
police station in Peshawar after a police raid on a house in Shalober area.
Afridi is being held without an FIR
being registered against him, according to the Tribal Union of Journalists
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
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