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Pak should redouble efforts to find journalist Shahzad's killers: HRW

Islamabad, Tue, 31 Jan 2012 ANI

Islamabad, Jan 31 (ANI): Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said the Pakistan government should redouble its efforts to find the killers of journalist Saleem Shahzad, following the failure of a judicial inquiry commission to identify the culprits.


The commission concluded in its January 10 report to the government that the police had failed to question Pakistan's military intelligence officials in its criminal investigation.


Shahzad disappeared from Islamabad on the evening of May 29, 2011, and his body, bearing visible signs of torture, was discovered on May 31, near Mandi Bahauddin, 130 kilometres southeast of Islamabad.


The abduction has raised concerns that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) could have been allegedly responsible, the Daily Times reports.


In June 2011, the Supreme Court, at the request of the government, instituted a commission of inquiry into the killing.


"The commission's failure to get to the bottom of the Shahzad killing illustrates the ability of the ISI to remain beyond the reach of the country's criminal justice system. The government still has the responsibility to identify those responsible for Shahzad's death and hold them accountable, no matter where the evidence leads," Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said.


The five-member commission, which included two judges, two senior police officers, and one journalist, convened on June 21, 2011. Over six months it interviewed 41 witnesses, including Shahzad's family members, journalists, senior ISI officials, and others.


ISI officials told the commission that Shahzad had cordial relations with them until shortly before his killing. Despite strong indications of the ISI involvement, the commission concluded that the Pakistani state, militant groups including the Taliban and al Qaeda, and unnamed 'foreign actors' could all have had a motive to kill Shahzad on the basis of his writings.


"The commission appeared fearful of confronting the ISI over Shahzad's death. Shahzad had made it clear to Human Rights Watch that should he be killed, the ISI should be considered the principal suspect," Adams added. (ANI)


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