Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes a move by Pakistan’s Government to accept the
terms of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) for appointing a
judicial commission headed by a Supreme Court judge to investigate the murder
of Syed Saleem Shahzad.
As journalists from across Pakistan staged a 24-hour sit-in outside the
Federal Parliament in Islamabad
to demand a full and independent investigation, the Government said in the
early hours of June 16 it would appoint the Supreme Court’s Justice Saqib Nisar
to lead the inquiry.
The PFUJ had rejected an earlier government
proposal to appoint the Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court, Agha Mohammad
Rafique, to head the commission.
The protesters ended their sit-in
after Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan told the PFUJ leadership that
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had signed documents at 3am to appoint Justice
Nisar. The commission’s other terms will be determined in consultation with the
“The IFJ is relieved that Pakistan’s Government
has agreed with the demands of the PFUJ and local journalists for the inquiry
into Shahzad’s murder,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park said.
“We reiterate our position that the inquiry
must be conducted promptly and transparently, and provide firm recommendations
to bring to justice the killers of Shahzad.”
Up to 1000 journalists and members
of civil society, rights activists, lawyers and senior politicians from almost
all political parties joined the sit-in from the afternoon of June 15,
according to the PFUJ, an IFJ affiliate.
Television anchors hosted their
programs from the protest site to highlight the dangers confronting media personnel
Shahzad disappeared in Islamabad on May 29, two
days after publishing on Asia Times
Online an investigative report into alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistani
naval officials. His body was found about 150km away on May 31.
The PFUJ and the IFJ had demanded the
Government set up a commission of inquiry headed by a Supreme Court judge by
Minister Awan also advised the PFUJ that
the Government would assess the union’s other demands, which include assurance
of compensation to the families of killed journalists equal to that received by
members of the police and military.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
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