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Shehzad's inquiry starts in shoddy manner

As the commission set up by Pakistan's chief justice continues its hearing of the case of journalist Saleem Shehzad's death, the role played by intelligence agencies in covering up the circumstances leading to his death is becoming increasingly apparent.

world Updated: Jul 21, 2011 23:15 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad

As the commission set up by Pakistan's chief justice continues its hearing of the case of journalist Saleem Shehzad's death, the role played by intelligence agencies in covering up the circumstances leading to his death is becoming increasingly apparent.

In one hearing of the independent commission headed by a supreme court judge, it was revealed that a journalist Atif Khan, who followed the trial to Sarai Alamgir, where Shehzad's body was eventually found, was threatened by a senior police officer to lay off the case.

Khan says the officer said that Shahzad was working on the agenda of some other countries.

The officer, who is a senior member of the Punjab police force, said that Shehzad was working against Pakistan's interests and "had been taught a lesson." Shehzad's last article talked of the nexus between Pakistan's intelligence agencies and outlawed militant groups.

Observers say there is a consistent attempt to sidetrack the investigation and no progress has been made in unearthing any evidence that would lead to Shehzad's killers.

A newspaper report quoted unnamed sources saying that Shehzad's car, found in Sarai Alamgir, was transported in a container to the site as all evidence leads to the fact that the journalist was killed in Islamabad and his body and car were then transported to Mandi Bahauddin to create confusion as to who killed him and where.

This suggests that it was a government agency and not a militant group that killed Shehzad, say journalists.

Now the police are dragging their feet on accessing Shehzad's email account. His mobile phone and laptop are missing. His phone records were first erased in June but re-appeared when a hue and cry was raised on the issue.

A journalist, Muhammad Faizaan, informed the commission that he and his wife received death threats and were being followed by unknown persons because they were Shehzad's friends.

Even after two weeks, they were not provided police protection despite clear instructions by the commission to the police to do so.

Shehzad's brother in law, Ameer Hamza, says he is hopeful that the independent commission will find the truth.

The American government has already blamed the Inter-Services Intelligence, but the Pakistan government says it is too early to make that claim.