U.S. Accuses Pakistan Government of Murdering Investigative Journalist

Syed Saleem Shahzad, Pakistani Asia Times writer reported on Paki Navy infiltration by terrorists and was killed

: Cross-posted at UNCOVERAGE.net

A possible contributing factor to this week’s U.S. decision to cut $800 million in aid to Pakistan, may also be this bombshell information which has just been released by U.S. Admiral Mike Mullen. The heartbreaking torture and murder of brave Pakistani journalist Syed Shahzad in May is being avenged…..by America. [read more about his case and other recent human rights abuses by the Pakistani government here.]

Pakistani government and military has paid only lip service to an investigation

Read Syed Shahzad’s last report here. Here are more of his archives.

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“U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen said today the Pakistani government “sanctioned” the killing of a critical Pakistani investigative journalist, becoming the first high-ranking official to make the public allegation.

The tortured body of Syed Saleem Shahzad was discovered in late May, days after he published an exclusive report which suggested al Qaeda had infiltrated the Pakistani navy. Months before, Shahzad had told colleagues and a Human Rights Watch researcher that he felt personally threatened by the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI.

Though a spokesperson for the ISI made a rare public comment to The Associated Press to claim any link between the ISI and Shahzad’s death was “absurd,” The New York Times reported earlier this week the Obama administration had seen intelligence that directly linked the agency to the hit.

Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters today, “I have not seen anything to disabuse that the government knew about it. [But] I cannot, I would not be able to walk in and say, here’s the string of evidence I have to confirm it.”

Mullen said he could not confirm the ISI in particular had anything to do with the killing, but he was “hugely concerned” about the death.

At the time of Shahzad’s death, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, visited his home to offer condolences and told reporters there it was possible the journalist was killed over a personal matter.

But in October 2010, Shahzad told his editor at the Asia Times Online he had been summoned to the ISI offices after publishing another exclusive report about Pakistan’s release of a major Taliban figure. During the meeting, the ISI demanded Shahzad retract the story and reveal his sources, but Shahzad refused, prompting a veiled threat, according to a report by Asia Times Online.

Shahzad described the ISI meeting in an email to Human Rights Watch researcher Ali Dayan Hasan and said, “I am forwarding this email to you in case something happens to me or my family in the future.”

Asia Times Online reported Shahzad sent a similar email to his editor there. When the editor suggested Shahzad lay low a while following the ISI meeting, he reportedly responded, “If I hold back and don’t do my job, I might as well just make the tea.”

Brian Downing of the Asia Times, Shahzad’s newspaper, has an excellent review of the murder and the international scrutiny it is now getting from both the U.S. and……China.

“The Shahzad case will mesh well with the evidence against the ISI that the US is gathering from many sources, including data taken from Osama bin Laden’s dwelling in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May after he was killed by US special forces. India will offer intelligence collected after many terrorist attacks – especially the 2001 attack in New Delhi and the one in Mumbai seven years later, both of which are thought to be the work of the ISI-backed group, Lashkar-i-Taiba.

The army’s ties to various other groups such as the Afghan Taliban, the Jaish-i-Mohammed, Jundallah and the Sipah-i-Sahaba have become increasingly clear – and increasingly worrisome as well.

Shahzad had reported that the military’s relations to such groups were not based simply on their utility. Directing them into strategic directions may have been the approach of senior commanders, but younger officers recruited into the military over the years have had ideological affinities. This has dire potential consequences for the region and for Pakistan itself.

The US will seek to work with indigenous groups to weaken the military’s position in political life and to redirect the officer corps into professional achievement and conventional organization geared to regional stability. More importantly, the US will seek to bolster the competence of the civilian government, which over the years has been largely in the hands of a corrupt landholding elite.

The Pakistani public is angry with the military, though for different and sometimes conflicting reasons. Some are upset that US special forces were able to penetrate their nation’s security measures and kill Bin Laden; others are aghast that the late al-Qaeda chief had been living in comfort within a few hundred meters of an army facility; others remain critical of the military’s years of misrule, control of key parts of the economy, bloated budgets – and more recently for the senseless killing of a young man in Karachi.” Read it all here at Asia Times.

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