Tag Archives: Saleem Shahzad

An act of desperation

TaqiBy Dr Mohammad Taqi

Hamid Mir’s guardian angel was watching over him perhaps. Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist and media personality, survived despite receiving multiple bullet injuries. He may be out of the woods medically but the violent threat to him and the Pakistani media at large has not dissipated. Mir was not the first journalist to be targeted with such brutal impunity and, unfortunately, will not be the last. Someone in the deep, convoluted bowels of society is getting really, really desperate. It seems like the war for the narrative and on those who may shape it has just entered a new and more deadly phase.
After a similar attack on the journalist Raza Rumi last month, I noted in my column ‘Hooked on jihadism’ (Daily Times, April 3, 2014) that “the Committee to Protect Journalists’ optimism notwithstanding, the Pakistani state is unlikely to kick its jihadist drug habit. The space for those citizens, especially media persons who do not conform, will continue to shrink. Raza Rumi, and others like him, will be left to fend for themselves.” The usual suspects seem gung-ho on either taming or eliminating the dissenting voices. The relentless assault on the media appears to be from both the state and non-state actors or some combination thereof. The attack on Express Television this past January was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan while the one on Raza Rumi has apparently been traced to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi ringleader Malik Ishaq. Many attacks, like the multiple bomb attacks on the residence of the Express Tribune’s Peshawar bureau chief, Jamshed Baghwan, have not been claimed by anyone.
Hamid Mir’s brother, Amir Mir — also a veteran journalist who has written extensively about the military-jihadist nexus — has directly blamed the ISI for the attack on Mir. Amnesty International’s (AI’s) Deputy Asia-Pacific Director David Griffiths has said in an e-mailed statement that, in the past three years, “Mir had on two occasions told the Amnesty International that he believed his life was under threat from different actors, including the ISI and the Pakistani Taliban.” Saying that they do not know who is responsible for the attack, the AI has called for bringing the perpetrators to book “regardless of their affiliations to any state institution, political party or any other group”. The Director General ISPR has since refuted Amir Mir’s allegations and an ISPR press release stated, “An independent inquiry must immediately be carried out to ascertain facts.”

Read more » Daily Times
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/24-Apr-2014/an-act-of-desperation

BBC – Can anyone control Pakistan’s ISI spies?

bbcPakistan’s dreaded spy agency, the ISI, is back in the spotlight, accused of murdering journalist Saleem Shahzad. The agency’s engagement with the media has become progressively more virulent as the “war on terror” has progressed. BBC Urdu editor Aamer Ahmed Khan asks whether anyone can bring the ISI under control.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13638478

Why they killed Arif Shahid

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

On the evening of May 13, an assassin stepped out of a car that had just driven to the doorstep of Sardar Arif Shahid’s residence in Rawalpindi.

He waited for the 62-year-old Kashmiri leader to arrive. After pumping four bullets into him, the killer calmly got back into the car and was whisked away.

A major Kashmiri nationalist leader, chairman of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA) and president of the Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Conference (JKNLC), had just been silenced. Mysteriously, a press that thrives on crime reporting was mum the next day. The murder still remains unreported.

My first meeting with Arif Shahid was just a few days after the October 8, 2005 earthquake. It had nothing to do with the politics of Kashmir. A team of teachers and students from Quaid-e-Azam University, using money raised by the Eqbal Ahmad Foundation, were engaged in a relief operation that was to last many months.

There were already 90,000 dead, and thousands of houses had been reduced to rubble. Winter was around the corner and countless more people would die unless they could be protected from the snow and bitter cold nights to come.

For our team, Arif Shahid was a gift from heaven because of his close familiarity with the villages around the earthquake devastated towns of Rawalakot, Bagh and Muzzafarabad. The number of shelterless families in dire need was staggering.

But how could strangers like us separate the needy from the scores of hucksters swarming around? We had enough wherewithal to construct 2,000 corrugated tin-roof shelters — a drop in the bucket, perhaps, but still significant if apportioned properly.

With perspicacity and determination, Arif Shahid set about the task of separating the needy from the greedy and patiently walked us around the worst-hit areas.

Gruff only in appearance, he was warm, caring and friendly. We noted with some amusement that, although Islamabad was just a few tens of miles away, he would invariably introduce us to groups of survivors as honourable guests from Pakistan!

Who killed him? As in the case of Saleem Shahzad, fingers will inevitably be pointed but there will be no closure. At the same time, the mystery is not impossible to fathom.

Family members, and others close to Arif Shahid, say that he had long been under observation and books that he had authored were seized.

As one who had successfully brought together fractious groups from both sides of Kashmir, he was considered especially effective as a mediator. In 2009, he had therefore been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) and his passport had been confiscated. It was later returned after he won a court battle.

Speakers at a small protest meeting that I attended in Rawalpindi a few days after the murder said that he had received threats that, for now, he had decided to ignore.

Significantly, this appears to be the first instance where a major Kashmiri nationalist leader was actually eliminated. Arousing suspicion is that there has been no condemnation of the murder by Pakistani political and military leaders, nor a demand that an investigation be launched. Instead, Amer Shahid, Arif Shahid’s son, has been threatened with dire consequences if he attempts to place the blame on any agency. He has been instructed to attribute the murder to a family feud.

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