Saleem Shahzad Pe Mat Ro

Don’t weep for Saleem Shahzad, for the tragedy of his death, the investigations, the report and much of the concern is beyond tears.

There is a rage storming over the findings presented on January 10 by the Pakistani judicial commission that probed the abduction and murder of the journalist. But, this is like a chain reaction. Does anyone recall that an NGO buried his body?

In a June 2, 2011 article Lessons From Shahzad’s Murder, I had written:

Pakistan is the most dreaded place for journalists. The pronouncement has been made. Yet a Pakistani reporter, and a person with an insider view of the al Qaeda and Taliban, Syed Saleem Shahzad’s brutal killing was not the top news on the websites of three prominent dailies in the country. The internet allows you to update stories. Since they have carried the news, it cannot be fear. Some call it (Pakistan) a police state. A police state has order and the level of shackling is complete, except perhaps for underground movements.

We will revisit a few salient points from that piece later.

Some of the current media talk is bizarre:

Though the commission was given six weeks to investigate the incident after Shahzad was killed in May last year, it took six months to finalise its findings. The commission led by a Supreme Court judge submitted its report to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday.

Why was it given six weeks? Don’t many cases drag on? Was the media following up? How many petitions were filed by news agencies or independent journalists?

The report has not held any institution or individual responsible for the abduction, torture and murder of Shahzad. The Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying that the panel had "stopped short of fixing responsibility for the journalist's killing". The commissions members have agreed that the report would be made public only by the government.
"We have strongly recommended that the report be made public by government as soon as possible," an unnamed member told the Dawn.
Under the commission's terms of reference, it was asked to "inquire into the background and circumstance" of Shahzad's murder and to "identify the culprits involved" in the crime. Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists president Pervaiz Shaukat, a member of the commission, said that while the panel had not held anyone directly responsible, it had included its doubts and concerns in the report.

What else are investigations about? How much information did the media have? If the government is complicit in the case, then one would be curious about the doubts and concerns. What I’d like to know is the reason for the initial silence of the ‘lambs’. Here, let me take you back to those pestering thoughts I had expressed:

Shahzad had been taken in by the Taliban in 2006 on suspicion of being a spy; he was released after seven days. He knew the perils of his profession and had also registered his fears with Human Rights Watch of Pakistan. He disappeared on Sunday, May 29. A police complaint was registered by his family. Did any human rights organisation do anything instead of being “disturbed” that a state agency might be involved? The media does have considerable influence and can approach government functionaries directly or interview them. Was any of that done? He had left that evening to attend a talk show on a television channel. Did the channel keep flashing the news about his disappearance?
This is strange that the local police picks up a body, conducts a post-mortem that reveals torture, and hands it to a NGO that goes ahead and buries it. No questions asked. Later, the Islamabad cops and the local ones realise the identity matches that of Shahzad, which his papers would have shown anyway. His family had to seek permission to exhume his body to confirm his identity. How can an unidentified person be temporarily buried? There are mortuaries in hospitals and the police ought to have alerted the intelligence agencies.

The Pakistani media will in the coming days raise questions about the ISI, which really is the state of Pakistan today, as in what comprises the nation-state. To extricate the ISI from the other arms of Pakistani polity is to merely play a game of chess and move the pawns about. The chess board remains the same.

Cut to now. The ISI denies it role. What did anyone expect?


  1. FV,

    I think the picture is utterly simple to infidels like me. Anyone even faintly opposed to any kind of an assumed general consensus in an Islamic state (or to entities purportedly defending the said Islamic state) can be condemned (by insinuation if not by law) as an apostate, an enemy of the faith. What makes the situation particularly morbid is that in a Muslim-majority society (which is not necessarily the same as an Islamic society), this 'crime' does not even deserve a trial. Those baying for the blood of such a person are hailed as national heroes by a society in which each person is deeply fearful of being branded an infidel (Reminds me of the witch-hunting in medieval Europe). So you effectively have a police state where everybody is a cop and a robber at the same time. This is the real Stockholm syndrome if I may say so! I sure envy their freedom, justice, equality and devotion!

    God is Great! So are the faithful!

  2. F&F:

    Nowhere did Shahzad convey that we was a non-believer. He was doing a job. Let us not get into the infidel thing here. Sure, people do make heroes out of killers who align themselves with religion...we should know about it.

    Here we are dealing with a simple fact: Botched up justice, botched up liberal concern.

    God it in the details that no one is interested in being faithful to.

  3. @FV - I am turning into a troll by the looks of it , my apologies.

    However I try my best to bring some objectivity into some of the prejudiced rants (call me a self-confessed vigilante) though I do indulge in my-fair-share of hindutva chest thumping as I am congenitally predisposed to it. Moving on ..

    @FnF – There’s a pattern here – I don’t want to be patronizing. But if you can take notice, you somehow have to bring islam into picture – what’s worse (in purely relative terms) is that you don’t even do ‘them’ the ‘favor’ of benign-malignant ala hindu-hindutva classification much to ‘their’ ire.

    It’s principally about keeping the bogey-man alive for both the camps. To digress, these are not two camps but a spectrum with two extreme ends –The Godhra-Deniers at one end and the holocaust deniers at the other. What you see in between are the likes of you,I and the author.

    One thing in common across the spectrum is this particular penchant to keep the respective bogey-man alive.

    Likes of FV call it the Saffron terror, you and I call it with innumerable mashups of words like Tehreek,Taliban,Mujahideen,Fiyadeen et al.

    Why do we do it ? , my best guess is , for FV and her co-religionists living in India, it’s with keeping the nash-equilibrium intact ,so that the overwhelming assertive hindu majority will not vote for the likes of Subramaian Swamy with his virat-hindu ‘hegemony’ theory into power (at-the-worst).

    The hindutva bogey-man whose ugly manifestations are albeit a fallout of active-imagination of the apologists brigade than a real threat has it’s uses too – like making the terror-propaganda an all pervasive phenomenon than making it endemic to the Ummah (At the best).

    For you and I it’s more psychological - partly or mostly to do with world media and the appeasement politics of UPA (I and II) that leaves us little hope ,which makes us all the more seek refuge in arm-chair intellections of this kind.

    But the sad part is the leeway FV’s kind expects from Hindus of India. Expecting hyper-rational objectivism, asking hindu populace to own up to ‘fringe-elements’ who throw bacon at the mosques or hoist the paki-flag and punish them, but on the other hand when it’s muslim-element treat them with kid-gloves and understand what makes them indulge in such acts in the first place.

    When ones expectations are such, cold hard facts notwithstanding, you just cannot make FV even in her sleep agree with what you want her to.

    And as far as Pakistan goes, the closest they will get to secularism will be like zillion years from now when they will atleast take ahmediyas into their mainstream-stride.

    To summarise, you FnF, are fighting for a lost cause.

  4. CandidSpade:

    Aha, self-confessed troll is like a spade calling itself a spade and then going to shovel. No probs. just don't call yourself a vigilante. Very RAW-ish. The time is for ripe pickings...and am sure you think this is something I learned from the Sharia. Subhan'Allah. Am reading the good book again - Madame Bovary.


    I don't mind if you talk to your alter ego. Only because you enter a maze does not mean your cause is lost.


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