Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fully backs a call by its affiliate, the Pakistan
Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), for the Government of Pakistan to
establish by June 10 a judicial commission to investigate the disappearance and
murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad.
PFUJ president Pervaiz Shaukat said
journalists from throughout Pakistan
would assemble in Islamabad
and stage a sit-in at the Parliament if the commission was not set up by this
The deadline was set at a meeting of
senior union leaders and journalists in Islamabad
on June 2, where the PFUJ also sought unity with the All Pakistan Newspaper
APNS president Hameed Haroon issued
a statement on June 2 in which he confirmed Shahzad had reported receiving
threatening messages on at least three occasions, allegedly from members of the
intelligence arm of the Pakistan
military, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
“Whatever the substance of these
allegations, they form an integral part of Mr Shahzad’s last testimony,” Haroon
said in his statement. “Mr Shahzad’s purpose in transmitting this information
to three concerned colleagues in the media was not to defame the ISI but to
avert a possible fulfilment of what he clearly perceived to be a death threat.”
The head of the Human Rights
Commission of Pakistan, Zohra Yusuf, was reported as saying that although there
was no conclusive evidence, “circumstances seem to point to state security
agencies because there have been other cases where journalists have been picked
up”, according to Reuters.
The ISI denies involvement in the
murder of Shahzad, 40, who disappeared in Islamabad
on May 29. Shahzad’s tortured body was found on May 31 at Mandi Bahauddin,
about 150km southeast of Islamabad in Punjab province.
On May 27, Shahzad published on Asia Times Online an investigative
report into alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistani naval officials. It
was to be the first of a two-part series. However, an editor’s note on the
website says Shahzad had not completed the second part of his report and it will therefore not be published.
“The IFJ commends the courage of
journalists in Pakistan
at this distressing and dangerous time,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park said. “We and journalists around the world will not
rest until all murderers of journalists in Pakistan are brought to justice.”
Black flags have been hoisted at
union offices and press clubs throughout the country, and PFUJ members will
conduct a protest outside the Parliament today.
Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online, for whom Shahzad was the Pakistan bureau
chief, is establishing a trust fund for his wife Anita and three teenage
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
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