Yellow Journalism over Saleem Shahzad Murder

By Zaheerul Hassan

Finally, on January 13, 2012 Ministry for Information and Broadcasting released the report of a judicial commission investigating the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad whose body was found last year on May 31 near Rasul Head works in Mandi Bahauddin, 80 miles south-east of Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. In this connection some local media anchors toed the Western line and tried to implicate country supreme intelligence agency (ISI) in the murder of low profile journalist Saleem Shahzad. Thus, it would not be wrong in saying that the six months of pro be and investigations of Judicial Commission prove that none of government institutions are involved in the murder of Saleem Shahzad. The judgment of the report also shows that some of the journalists carried out yellow journalism to malign ISI and security forces. Moreover commission, was unable to identify the culprits due to lack of significant evidence. However, the commission has insisted in its report that the government provides considerable compensation to the victim’s family.

The report links Shahzad’s murder to the War on Terror and states that being an investigative reporter, his writing could have offended any of the parties involved in the war of terror, from Taliban, al Qaeda or foreign actors, the report suggests, giving them a motive to murder him. Some of the witnesses also linked the murder to the succeeding drone attack on Ilyas Kashmiri. The report also stated that Shahzad’s murder has endangered the Pakistani citizen’s right to life and the freedom of speech and information about public matters.

The report recommends that it is in the nation’s best interest for the public to know the truth and that the press should be made more law abiding. The commission also proposed that public confidence needs to be restored in all institutions of the state, all agencies should be made extra accountable and agencies like ISI be made more law abiding, their interaction with the media frequently documented.

Here, I would like to comment on the report that ISI is a sole intelligence agency which always adopted defensive posture while taking proactive actions and counter measures in the interest of Pakistan against its rival agencies like CIA and RAW. Whereas, foreign agencies have always tried to create political turmoil and instability while using various means and tools through espionage and subversion. In fact media always remains an attractive instrument of vile propaganda against nuclear Pakistan. In this context, foreign agencies have spent millions of dollars in buying TV commentators and Journalists of the Muslim world, which could better malign Pakistan in wake of continued war on terror by exploiting the multi-faceted crises of our country. In this regard, various techniques such as temptation, kidnapping and blackmailing are being employed by the RAW officials for capturing the Journalist of the rival countries.

Close watching of late Saleem Shahzad narrates that intentionally or unintentionally he used to contribute against our national interest. His writing as Bureau Chief of the Asia Times remained controversial and was reflection of sinister design against Pakistan. Though, he covered number of topics in his writing but to gain cheap popularity, first criticised ISI and security agencies then started providing information regarding Taliban to CIA while staying on her payroll.

According to the credible reports, he was provided with material by some famous figure to disrepute Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). In this connection, he scribed a series of articles. Afterwards, political issues like Taliban, terrorism, Pak Army, ISI etc. became focus of his writings. It is mentionable here that in October 2003, his article titled, ‘Pakistan, FBI Rules and Roost’ appeared in Asia Times Online. He intermittently visited Afghanistan, but arrested was there. Both RAW and Afghanistan’s secret agency, Khad availed the opportunity. Saleem Shahzad was blackmailed by various methods including temptation and was forced to write against Pakistan. The journalist who used to blackmail various government departments of Pakistan, himself, became prey of blackmailing coupled with threat of life.

Nevertheless, in the first week of June, in an article 2011, “Murder of a fearless, and reliable Pakistani journalist” three possibilities of Saleem shahzad’s murder have been mentioned. “Third possibility” of murder of Shahzad has been reproduced for the readers’ consumption, which is closer to the report released and reality;

(Third Posibility),Though Pakistan and U.S. apparently kept on claiming each other as their front line allies but due to various U.S. actions like interfering in Balochistan and joining hands with India manifold the already existed trust deficit continued between two countries. However, the differences between the agencies of two countries and their intelligence agencies (CIA & ISI) further deteriorated after U.S. unilateral operation in Abbottabad (killing of OBL) and PN base tragedy. CIA got chance to speed up the propaganda against ISI and Pakistan security forces while using the specific section of media. American, Indian and foreign sponsored traitors started anti army and ISI campaign. Thus to fuel the anti ISI campaign further CIA in collaboration with RAW probably kidnapped the journalist and later on killed him with the purpose of implicating local agencies in the murder of Shahzad.

Anyhow Investigation report about Saleem Shahzad’s murder has been released, but Killers of his murder have yet to be traced. Media anchors, the owners of electronic and print media should show responsibility and devise some policy of controlling yellow journalism. We must know that Pakistan is undergoing a very critical situation where the issues like; case of contempt of Supreme Court by PM in NRO, memo gate, poor governess, alleging and criticizing ISI by media anchors like Hamid Mir, Najam Sethi, Human rights activists, Asma Jahangir are on peak and being exploited in international media. At the end, I will say that civil, military and courts should display responsibilities and should come out to create unity in the masses against the common enemies of Pakistan.

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