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Syed Saleem Shahzad, a senior successful journalist of Pakistan was murdered. He used to write aggressively in his widely read columns about militants, read terrorists, infiltrating the Pakistan security forces, including armed forces and intelligence network. His articles were well researched and proved his point by backing proposition with statistics. Naturally, he hit where it hurt most. Some highly placed security and intelligence personnel were directly hit and in the best tradition of the Pakistani culture they vowed revenge.

It is feared that the murder of the renowned journalist, loved by common man who read him with interest and hated by the top brass of uniformed services who read his columns with seething anger, was planned and executed by the government agencies.

The May murder most foul raised a finger even against General Pasha, head of the powerful spy agency notoriously known as the ISI. Both the serving and the retired officers and men of the Pakistan army work there and plan operations of sorts against India too. In days gone by, influential generals like Pervez Musharraf and Pervez Kayani were guiding the destiny of ISI as its effective heads. One can imagine how powerful the spy organization is. They say that even former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto’s assassination was planned and executed under direct supervision of ISI and with the blessings of the then President of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf.

The aim of the powerful spy agency in having Syed Saleem Shahzad murdered was to silence his pen and eliminate an anti-ISI journalist. Of course, the murder of the said journo disturbed the hornet’s nest. The crime attracted the attention of the highest of the high in more countries than one. Admiral Mike Mullen, the then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee commented on the murder and said that the motivation for the heinous crime came from the high government agencies. Of course, he did not name the ISI directly but commentators who read the script of his despatch between the lines did not miss the all important point. Admiral Mike Mullen confirmed on 7th July 11 that the Government of Pakistan had sanctioned the killing of the aforesaid anti-establishment fearless journalist. Syed Saleem Shahzad paid the price of exposing national shame with his own life. In the wake of his murder in May 2011, some other journalists too came forward to say that they too had been illegally detained and tortured by the Pakistan govt’s spy agencies.


The ISI has come out with a statement that the anti-national elements are casting a slur on the principal spy agency to weaken it. In the bargain those people are strengthening India, an arch-enemy of Pakistan. The Truth, however, is not siding the ISI in this case. The people of Pakistan who at one time took pride in the Pakistan army and ISI as institutions that would defend Pakistan when an enemy attacks, are no longer the favourites of the people. An average citizen knows all about the corruption that is prevalent in the ISI and its over-seeing organization, the Army. The sheen is gone.

Some of the international events of late have also brought a bad name to both the ISI and the Pakistan Army. A case in sight is Osama bin-Laden who was given a shelter and provided protection in the heart of the cantonment of Abbottabad. Moreover, how could the top- terrorist be killed by the Americans in Pakistan when he was under Army’s protection. The incident painted both the ISI and the Army in the bad light. Further, the much publicized involvement of ISI in the terrorist attack on Mumbai, India did not bring laurels to anyone in Pakistan. The episode brought brickbats from the Peaceniks, though.

Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of the ISI has got a bad name as a planner and defender of Osama bin-Laden. The Pakistan Army is now seen by the common man as dabbling into politics and not preparing to defend Pakistan from an attack by the known or the unknown enemy. With the imminent departure of the NATO forces from Afghanistan, it is feared that the Islamist terrorists will gain the upper hand. If the ISI and the Pakistan Army’s leadership is in disarray, running  foul of law of the land by ordering murder of a reputed journalist, how will they defend the interests of Pakistan beyond its borders in the heartland of Afghanistan. The answer lies in easing out Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha and bringing in a General who is apolitical.

Well, the situation is fluid as of now. However, the security forces appear to have learnt a lesson: Murder no man because it is against the law of the land.

By Chitranjan Sawant


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