Sunday, 15 January 2012

Saleem Shahzad Inquiry Commission Report

Syed Saleem Shahzad, a prominent Pakistani journalist, was abducted during
broad day light from the heart of the capital on May 29, 2011. His abduction
and subsequent brutal murder left everyone in a state of shock - not just his
family and the community of journalist but also the public at large. Citizens
were alarmed since the net of suspicious was cast, amongst others, on
institutions of the state itself. The alarm soon turned into outrage,
manifesting itself in the form of protests.
In response, the Government of Pakistan constituted the present Commission
of Inquiry. The Commission, comprised a judge of the apex Court, the Chief
Justice of the Federal Shariat Court, Inspector Generals of Police for Punjab
and Islamabad and the President, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists
(PFUJ). It was assigned the task of inquiring into the background of this
incident and identifying the culprits involved in it. The Commissioners have
also been asked to probe the constitutional implications of this situation, and
to recommend measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in the
For six months, the Commission has done everything in its capacity to
discharge its burden. The Commission held as many as 23 formal meetings,
examined no less than 41 witnesses and went through a large volume of
documents comprising the writings of the deceased, emails, telephone
records and investigation reports as well as the reports of Commissions
which have investigated similar incidents in the past. It is on the basis of this
extensive inquiry that the present report has been compiled.
The Commission has recorded all its findings and proposals in this Report,
annexed by the appropriate records. In brief, the Commission concludes
Firstly, in all probability, the background of this incident is provided by the
War on Terror.
As an investigative reporter, Saleem’s writings probably did, and
certainly could have, drawn the ire of all the various belligerents in the War
on Terror – the Pakistani state, the non-state actors such as the Taliban and
al-Qaida, and foreign actors. Any of these could have had the motive to
commit the crime. Clearly, he was also in close contact with all of these. The
incident may also have been linked, as asserted by some of the witnesses
examined, to the subsequent drone attack on Ilyas Kashmiri.
Secondly, the Commission has been unable to indentify the culprits behind
this incident.
The Commission looked very hard for the kind of substantial
evidence/tangible material - direct or circumstantial - which would allow it
to single out the culprits from the various suspected quarters. Yet such
evidence has not surfaced. From what is available on the record,
unfortunately, the culprits cannot be identified. Nonetheless, the
Commission urges the Government to provide substantial compensation and
support to the family of the deceased, and to deliver on promise already
Thirdly, the such incidents, and the climate of fear they give rise to, imperil
the citizen’s fundamental rights such as the right to life (Article 9), freedom
of speech (Article 19), and freedom of information about public matters
(Article 19A). The concept of rule of rule of law, under Article 4, is also put
in danger.
Fourthly, noting the gravity of the situation,
people against oppression and tyranny” In that regard, where the work of
the Commission stops, the work of the others starts.
Islamabad, (Justice Mian Saqib Nisar)
the 10th January, 2012 President
Commission of Inquiry