Karachi/Islamabad, Jun 1: Slain Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad, who was tortured to death after he wrote a report alleging that al-Qaeda had infiltrated the Pakistan Navy was today buried in Karachi after a funeral prayer, as the government promised to probe any ISI role in the incident.
The burial took place after his body was brought to Karachi from Islamabad. Hundreds of mourners, including fellow scribes attended the funeral of the slain journalist. The 40-year-old journalist's relatives and friends condemned the murder and said he was a thorough professional and an affectionate person.
Shahzad's article had contended that al-Qaeda attacked the naval airbase in Karachi after failed talks with the navy to release some arrested naval personnel who had terror links.
The killing of Shahzad prompted the Pakistani Interior Ministry to allow journalists to carry small fire-arms for self-defence in the wake of the murder of scribe Syed Saleem Shahzad.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik also promised to probe allegations about ISI's involvement in his abduction. Malik's assurance came while speaking to the media after visiting Shahzad's residence in Islamabad.
Malik said Shahzad's family was not satisfied with the autopsy report and had demanded that a second post-mortem examination should be conducted.
“Though another autopsy is not possible, a medical board can be formed to carry out investigations,” he said.
Shahzad had vanished in Islamabad on Sunday after his piece on the presence of rogue elements in Pakistan Navy bases with links to al-Qaeda appeared on the Asia Times Online.
Shahzad was found dead in Punjab province yesterday with his body bearing marks of torture.
“It is sad and a matter of grave concern for us, the way journalists are being targeted in the line of duty we demand an inquiry into Shahzad's murder and protection for journalists,” said Amin Yousuf, a top office bearer of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.
Yousuf said the media around the country would observe two-days mourning for the slain journalist.
Meanwhile, TV channels reported that Shahzad's death occurred due to a blow close to his heart. His lungs were also damaged and they were signs of rope around his neck.
Ashok Kumar, a doctor at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science in Islamabad, said it was confirmed the cause of death was torture.
“His lungs and liver had been damaged.” Ali Dayan Hasan, the Human Rights Watch representative in Pakistan, has told the media that he suspected that Shahzad had been picked up by the ISI.
The slain journalist's brother said Shahzad had always highlighted the truth and had received threats before for his pieces on militant activities and organisations.
Interior Minister Malik said a police probe had been ordered and promised a reward of nearly USD 30,000 to anyone providing clues to the murder. But journalists were skeptical of anything coming out of the inquiry as they pointed out that in the past also such probes into violence against the media had led to nothing.
Reporters Without Borders said 16 journalists have now been killed since the start of 2010 in Pakistan, which it ranks 151 out of 178 countries in its press freedom index.
Arshad Aziz, who is the president of the Khyber Union of Journalists, said there was no doubt now that reporting in the northern areas and tribal agencies was the most dangerous job for the media now. PTI