Investigative reporter found dead

June 1, 2011 at 12:18 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 31 (UPI) -- Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, who had reported on al-Qaida and militancy, was found dead in a town miles from his Islamabad home, authorities said.

Shahzad, 40, bureau chief of Hong Kong-based Asia Times, went missing Sunday after leaving his Islamabad home to go to a news channel, Dawn newspaper reported. In his recent Asia Times report, Shahzad wrote al-Qaida was involved in the daring May 22 attack on the PNS Mehran naval air station in Karachi after failed talks over release of navy officials being held on suspicion of links with the terror group.

Pakistan's The News International reported Shahzad, married and father of three children, was killed by his captors who had kidnapped him. The report said police in the Punjab province found his body in the Mandi-Bahauddin area, where his body had been dumped in a stream.

The Washington Post quoted other journalists and human rights activists as saying Shahzad had written about the dealings of the intelligence agency with Islamist insurgents.

He had sent an e-mail last October to the Pakistani representative of Human Rights Watch about his meeting with officers of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, saying, "I am forwarding this e-mail to you for your record only if in case something happens to me or my family in future."

The ISI, already under pressure from the United States following the May 2 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, denied the agency was involved in the journalist's death, the Post quoted an official as saying.

President Asif Ali Zardari joined other Pakistani leaders in expressing grief and sorrow over Shahzad's death and ordered an immediate inquiry into the kidnapping and slaying of the journalist, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

In an editorial Wednesday, Pakistan's Daily Times said Shahzad had voiced concerns to the Human Rights Watch that the intelligence agency could harm him, adding Shahzad had disappeared before his second part of the PNS Mehran could appear in Asia Times.

"It is a sad day, nay black day, for journalism in Pakistan that a journalist was picked up from the capital and his tortured body dumped in another town while the perpetrators of this gory crime roam free," the editorial said. "This should also serve as an eye-opener for those who have been apologizing for the military and the Taliban alike. How many more innocents have to die before we realize that our country is a war zone where no one is safe from either our so-called saviors or the terrorists."

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