WASHINGTON, June 3 (UPI) -- The death of a Pakistani journalist is a serious blow to the country's fragile state of democracy, the chairman of the U.S. foreign relations committee said.
Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistani bureau chief for Asia Times Online, was abducted Sunday from Islamabad and later found dead. A reporter on al-Qaida and militant groups in Pakistan, he was buried Wednesday in Karachi.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Washington's point man on Pakistani affairs, said he was deeply shocked by the news. Islamabad is called on to conduct a thorough investigation into Shahzad's death.
"His death is a blow to Pakistan's fragile democracy and a chilling reminder of the dangers journalists continue to face in Pakistan," Kerry said in a statement.
U.S.-Pakistani relations are on shaky ground after U.S. Navy SEALs killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in a May 2 raid a short distance from one of Pakistan's elite military academies.
U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Washington after his recent visit to Pakistan that engagement with Islamabad remains a key interest.
"It is important to figure out how we can engage each other, particularly in these areas that mutually threaten us," he said. "At the top of that list is the terrorism threat in that country, in that region, that affects all of us."