Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Syed Saleem Shahzad

The news of Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad's assassination alledgedly at the hands of his country's military intelligence agency, the ISI [Inter Services Intelligence] has aroused a media and human rights storm.
Shahzad, a respected journalist, was bureau chief at the e paper 'Asia Times Online' and reported for the Italian news agency Adnkronos. He knew his beat. Although he commented on events in Central Asia, he kept his ear to ground in his country of Pakistan on matters of security, terrorism, and war.
His articles were widely read beyond Pakistan; they shed light on issues which often went uncovered in the global media, and it is not an exaggeration to say that intelligence agencies including the ISI kept their eye on his writings.
As a journalist in Pakistan, he was always on the cusp of danger and perhaps subjectively knew his life was always in danger. Yet that did not stop his investigative reporting, it only stiffened his resolve.
The straw that ultimately broke his life was his article exposing the degree of infilitration of al Qaeda into Pakistan's navy that resulted on a many hours battle by the terrorists taking over an important naval base. [In a way, was it a replay of another ISI directed terrorist assault on the Omni hotel in Mumbai?]
Shahzad's article not only embarrassed the Navy, but also intensified the laser like heat on the rogue elements and the contending fiefs that make up the ISI. Perhaps, speculation says, were it not for the US killing of Osama Bin Laden by US Seals in Abbotabad, Shahzad might have gotten off with a bad beating and detention, but the al Qaeda's caid assassination has exposed the Pakistani state as a country which is in the hands of its secret services.
And more than that, it is the middling ranks of colonels and majors and captains who count among the discontented and who, it seems, are willing to throw their lot in with al Qaeda in Pakistan. And that, too, doomed Shahzad for telling the truth.
A coup d'etat is in preparation and somehow he lifted the veil of secrecy on it and for that he paid for it with his life. [GuamDiary has often suggested that the reading of the Man Booker short listed Mohammed Hanif's 'Exploding Pineapples' as background to the central role of the ISI in Pakistan.]
Syed Saleem Shahzad leaves a wife and three young children. Our sympathies go out to them. GuamDiary sincerely hopes that the Pakistani authorities stiffen backbones and resolve and bring his murderers to justice.

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