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Thursday, June 2, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Killing of senior journalist rocks Pakistanís
media community

By Malik Ayub Sumbal

ISLAMABAD ó A senior correspondent was found dead on May 31 near Sarai Alamgir, 150 kilometers (93 miles) southeast of Islamabad.


The killing of Syed Saleem Shahzad, a senior investigative reporter for the Hong Kong-based online newspaper Asian Times and Italian news Adnkronos International (AKI) agency, has shattered Pakistanís journalistís community and is being considered a message to all the other journalists working on sensitive issues and beats.

Saleem Shahzad was kidnapped Sunday evening by unidentified persons. Pakistan is listed among the most dangerous countries for working journalists and ranks 3rd on the list of the most difficult reporting zones.Following the kidnapping and killing, Interior Minister Rehman Malik ordered authorities to issue the armed licenses to journalists in Pakistan because they are under threat.

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Shahzad, 40, was bureau chief of Asia Times Online. He disappeared two days after writing an investigative report in Asia Times Online that Al Qaida had carried out last weekís attack on a naval airbase to avenge the arrest of naval officials on suspicion of having links with Al Qaida.

Some private television channels Tuesday afternoon aired a photo of the slain Shahzad and also showed his office identity card and his car parked in Sarai Alamgir area.

Local and international journalists unions and federation condemned the murder of Saleem Shahzad and requested a thorough inquiry to trace the killers. The United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki Moon deplored the kidnapping and murder and called for an immediate probe.

Pakistani presidentís spokesman Farahatullah Babar visited Shahzadís residence and met with the deceasedís friends and relatives. Talking to reporters on the occasion, he said a complete investigation would be carried out into the incident and culprits would be brought to justice.

Meanwhile, a police source said a joint investigation team comprising members from Islamabad and Punjab police would investigate the case. The source said a special team had also been dispatched to the crime scene to collect forensic and circumstantial evidence.

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