Pakistan Must Set Up Shahzad Judicial Commission by June 10

The International

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

Society (APNS).


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website says Shahzad had not completed the second part of his report and it will therefore not be published.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



For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0919



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