Pakistan Union Wins Government Backing for Murder Inquiry

 

The International

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

PFUJ.

 

“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

in Pakistan.

 

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

June 10.

 

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.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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