Hundreds bury Pakistani journalist tortured to death
KARACHI: Hundreds of mourners turned out Wednesday for the burial of a Pakistan journalist who was tortured and said he was threatened by the country’s intelligence services, as his colleagues demanded protection.
Saleem Shahzad, a 40-year-old father of three, vanished after leaving home in Islamabad to appear on a television talk show, two days after writing an article about links between rogue elements of the navy and al Qaeda.
His grief-stricken relatives have demanded a full investigation but have not apportioned blame for his killing, which came five years after he was briefly kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan and accused of being a spy.
Shahzad’s body was found Tuesday, about 150 kilometres southeast of Islamabad. Police said it bore marks of torture.
Around 300 people, mostly relatives and journalists, attended the funeral prayers and Shahzad was buried in a local cemetery in his home town of Karachi.
“We have lost everything. What can we do now?” sobbed his son, Fahad Saleem, resting on the shoulder of an uncle.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists announced two days of mourning and a spokesman said members would organise protests nationwide on Friday.
“I can’t blame anyone at the moment. I’ll analyse the whole episode before making any statement,” Wasim Fawad, a brother of Shahzad, told AFP.
In the northwestern city of Peshawar, which has suffered heavily from attacks blamed on Taliban and al Qaeda militants, dozens of journalists carried placards demanding the state provide security to members of their profession.
“Several journalists have been killed in the past years in Pakistan but the government has completely failed to arrest the culprits,” said Arshad Aziz Malik, president of the Khyber Union of Journalists.
“We are under threat and we demand protection,” he added.