Police 'clueless' over Shahzad's killing
ISLAMABAD - Islamabad police have not made any progress investigating the death of Asia Timers Online Pakistan bureau chief Syed Saleem Shahzad, a top official from the force has told Asia Times Online.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said police had failed to get any video footage that would trace any culprits and show where Shahzad had been picked up. Despite strict instructions from the higher authorities that police trace those responsible for the death of the 40-year-old married father of three, the case is complicated by the involvement of two separate jurisdictions, he said.
The badly beaten body of Shahzad was found on May 31 in a canal in Mandi Bahauddin, about 150 kilometers southeast of
Islamabad, two days after he went missing on his way from his home to a television interview in another part of the highly secure capital.
Human Rights Watch cited a "reliable interlocutor" who said Shahzad had been abducted by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The ISI issued a rare rebuttal to what it described as "baseless" media claims that it had targeted Shahzad for assassination.
At Margallah Police Station in Islamabad, where the abduction case has been registered, Station House Officer Irshad Abroo said: ''No development in the abduction and murder of Saleem Shahzad has been made because we are clueless and there is not any proof that is being witnessed that he has been kidnapped from Islamabad.''
The case has to be solved by police in Mandi Bahaudin because they found the body of Shahzad ''and they have more information as compared to the capital police',' Abroo said, adding that Islamabad police had moved a legal opinion application to seek advice from higher authorities in the further investigations.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari ordered an immediate inquiry into Shahzad's killing after his body was found with wounds consistent with having been tortured, while the Interior Minister Rehman Malik visited the slain journalist's family and assured them that quick arrests would be made. Information Minister Firdous Aashiq Awan said an investigative committee would be established. That committee was supposed to submit its report within three days, but 13 days have now passed with no progress in the investigation.
The head of the three-member committee investing Shahzad's killing, DIG (Establishment) Dr Shuaib Dastgir, was contacted several times, but citing a tough schedule was not available to talk with Asia Times Online. After repeated attempts, Asia Timers Online has been unable to talk to Mandi Bahaudin District Police Officer, Dar Ali Khan Khattak.
Sources in the Punjab police said it would be hard to trace Shahzad's murderers because they left no proof that could lead the police in further investigations. The call record of Shahzad has been wiped from the phone company's data.
Pakistani media reported that Jyotirmoy Dey, a senior investigative journalist and crime editor at Mid Day was gunned down in the Indian city of Mumbai on Saturday. Dey was writing a book with the assistance of Shahzad on Dawood Ibrahim, an underworld Indian fugitive wanted in connection with - among other things - the 1993 Bombay (Mumbai) bombings, Pakistan media reported.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom and Italy have called for a full, independent investigation into the murder of Shahzad. Ali Dayan Hasan, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in South Asia, called for a "transparent investigation and court proceedings" and said that Shahzad's killing bore "all the hallmarks of previous killings perpetrated by Pakistani intelligence agencies".
Previous enquiries into the killings of Pakistani journalists have not been made public, with not a single killer facing justice over the estimated 251 journalists murdered in the country in the past decade. Pakistan had the world's worst record for journalist fatalities in 2010 - with 44 deaths - and four prominent newsmen have been killed this year.
Malik Ayub Sumbal is a freelance investigative journalist based in Islamabad, Pakistan. He has worked for more than eight years for a number of national and international newspapers, magazines, journals, wire services and television channels. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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