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On Saleem Shahzad’s Brutal Murder and the Military

May 31, 2011

What can one even say about Saleem Shahzad’s brutal murder?

Shahzad was the Pakistan bureau chief of Asian Times Online and had recently authored a book entitled “Inside Al Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11”. From what I’ve read of his work Shahzad provided unique insights on militancy in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Insights some people clearly no longer wished to be revealed.

The last article he penned was on the attack on PNS Mehran. The article alleged significant Al Qaeda infiltration in the lower level ranks of the Pakistan Navy and spoke of direct negotiations between the Pakistan Navy and Al Qaeda’s 313 Brigade. Two days after publishing this report, Shahzad was abducted. Two days later his body was found in Mandi Bahauddin.

I did not know Shahzad personally, and therefore cannot speak in that regard. However, from what many people who do know him have said, he was an intelligent, charming, and kind person. One can only hope that his family may find some peace in these impossible times for them.

What I do know is that Shahzad’s murder is indicative of a military complex that is thrashing about. Unwilling to go down, it is more than happy to push the entire country over an abyss to safeguard its narrow institutional interests.

The warning signs were there all along that the military and the ISI were perfectly capable of such an act. Scores of Baloch journalists, politicians, and activists have turned up dead after disappearing for a short period of time. Anyone who has ever seen a picture of a Baloch murdered by the state apparatus knows of the tell tale signs of torture on the body. The same marks visible on Saleem Shahzad’s corpse.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Pakistanis paid little to no heed to the systematic repression and torture of the Baloch. A land considered too far removed from the palace intrigues of Islamabad or the road widening boxed thinking in Lahore. What’s that they say about chickens coming home to roost?

The Pakistani Military establishment has its interests – those interests are to enrich itself. You could say that the interests are wider, such as control over foreign and defence policy, control over internal security, etc. But truly, all these interests converge into a singular point where the army simply wants to maintain the maximum amount of power to himself. Because power is the road which leads you to riches.

Let’s not believe their hollow claims of sovereignty and “ghairat”. The way they define “ghairat” has nothing to do with personal dignity, and all to do with ensuring their survival as the hegemon in Pakistan. And any institution that kills Pakistanis, be they the Baloch or Saleem Shehzad, has no concept of what sovereignty means.

Ever since the 2nd of May, our military Lords and Masters have been on the back foot. Their response has been indignation. How else to explain the arrogance of Chief of Naval Staff Nauman Bashir in informing us that the brazen attack on PNS Mehran was “not a security failure”?

The ethos ingrained in our security high command is not “protect your people”, its “you can get away with anything.”

And if getting away with something requires the murder of the citizens you have sworn to protect; so be it.

Few things could be more repulsive.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2011 3:01 pm

    Depressing, Admiral Bashir today refused to appear in the Senate. Obviously they beleive that they areabove the law and better than the rest of us. Someone give them all housing schemes to run and retire the lot of them

  2. May 31, 2011 4:23 pm

    Something must be done … we need to organize ourselves nationally to yell “Enough is enough!!” and be heard …

    kia kerraain bhai … we need an action plan … an introspective action plan – I am deeply repulsed by the Army and its senseless intelligence operations –

  3. Zish Baloch permalink
    May 31, 2011 4:52 pm

    “Chickens coming home to roost”… well said. Not that it was our wish that Lords start doing it to rest of the country… but yes, now I hope that Saleem’s blood will help us, the balolch’s, in great deal by finally getting our voices heard and bringing pakistanis together against the THUGS!!! we have suffered enough!

  4. Anonymous permalink
    May 31, 2011 5:23 pm

    Atleast people in Pakistan and finally waking up and realising how much the Military is to blame for the current situation and how deeply they are involved.

  5. Anon permalink
    May 31, 2011 5:25 pm

    At least people are finally Waking Up and realising how much the Military is responsible for Pakistan’s current plight. Economically the past 5 Governments are to blame, but the unstable nature of Pakistan is down to the Military. They are deeply involved and faster we realise this, the better the future may be.

  6. Anonymous Indian permalink
    May 31, 2011 5:27 pm

    Its sad that honest journalism in Pakistan is so fatal. I read that the slain journalist has children. My prayers are with his family, though I dont know how they must be dealing with this painful situation. I am an Indian and here our perception is that Pakistan is delving into an abyss. I use the word perception because I am sure that the civil society in Pakistan would have a more hopeful and optimistic view of things. Nevertheless I am really saddened to read about this unfortunate and cold blooded murder. May god almighty give the family the strength to come through this ordeal.

  7. omar permalink
    May 31, 2011 5:32 pm

    Dont be too sure about the “waking up”. ISI psyops will soon be on the scene to tell us that blackwater operatives given visas by Hussain Haqqani have carried out this action. They will not explain how blackwater operatives can do this in fortress Islamabad without the finest intelligence agency in the world being able to do anything about it. It will be a ridiculous story. But it will be believed by many people. The buger-jihadis and the ISI will stick together to the bitter end. And a lot of our newly educated punjabi middle class seems to be burger-jihadi….

  8. June 1, 2011 8:16 am

    So it seems that the global plan of creating the differences b/w Army & its People is working fine now as I see army/ ISI haters & bashers having the time of their life. huhhh. If Saleem Shehzad’s report is correct then how can 1 explain the targetting of only Orion planes were destroyed? Obviously this was not the case because we must look at the beneficiaries of this act.

    • Anonymous permalink
      September 21, 2011 2:44 am

      well said MD…I bet not even one of them here would have read onw of his columns or books .I have read the last one and few of his columns .I swear to MY GOD ,it felt that it was written by somebody who is specifically targeting Pakistan army and isi ,not even once he ever mentiona the evil plans of USA and other agencies against pakistan .He has consistently written against the interest of Pakistan .ISI warned him so many times .But a dogs tail is always bent .If he was killed by ISI .I salute them.
      Who was he working for that he was so brave ? surely ,he was working for westerners ,no wonder ,USA condemned his demise and so as UK .
      learn to understand the widespread problem what ISI is facing to dis integrate pakistan .one ISI against the world .

  9. public permalink
    June 1, 2011 8:37 pm

    judgementday is close for foolish army leadership in pakistan as cheif fool prvez mushrruf has to run out of power being in uniform first time in pak history.pakistanis are waking as they know that present unpleasent situation is due to hang papolar Bhutto and other hand to handcuff wellaccepted nawazsharif by the lunatic and “furhoons” goverment army servents.good days are nearby.

  10. Shahzad A Shaikh permalink
    June 2, 2011 2:04 pm

    If we had a stronger civilian government right now, this was the time to finally remove the stranglehold the Army/ISI has on the country. But when Shuja Pasha presented himself before Parliament our lawmakers cringed and fawned before him and simply passed a meaningless anti-American resolution! Thus a singular opportunity to correct the imbalance between the military and civilian setups was lost. The Pakistan Army has long followed a misguided policy of ‘containment’ of Baluchi nationalists by labeling them as traitors and Indian backed when the fact of the matter is that Baluchistan has long been denied it due rights both economically and politically. It is a pity that the rest of the country has long ignored this continuing murder of the Baluchis. If the nation had collectively raised its voice and protested against these killing by the Army things may have been somewhat better. Now it appears its already too late to save ourselves from our own ‘defenders’ .

  11. June 2, 2011 8:07 pm

    completely agree with what your saying here..there has to be accountability for all institutions. The target killings and detentions have been going on unchecked in Balochistan for decades..and the media has ignored this issue because the victims have been called separatists or terrorists…the only way this can end is that we highlight such killings..justice is perhaps asking for too much right now..but maybe just highlighting it will help..I hope that you can come back with a follow up article on the progress that is being made on the investigation into his murder…something happens in Pakistan everyday, so we usually bring up issues, but never follow up on them..

  12. Anonymous permalink
    June 2, 2011 9:30 pm

    we always keep chanting ENOUGH! but do we REALLY mean it?? i don’t think so.. we are one dead nation.. nothing matters to us anymore.. we are slowly killing ourselves..

    rise before we are dead!

  13. nadia permalink
    June 2, 2011 9:32 pm

    we always keep chanting ENOUGH! but do we REALLY mean it?? i don’t think so.. we are one dead nation.. nothing matters to us anymore.. we are slowly killing ourselves..

    rise before we are dead!

  14. June 3, 2011 1:21 pm

    We are in critical juncture of time and the US and its blue eyed want to disintegrate our country.they will kill more and more to deepen the rift between the people and our military institutions.Its the time to realize that parliament and democracy can save the country.there must be a respect for parliament within all national institutions to play a leading role to save the country.our military is not only our force but it is the guarantee of all Muslims. Mr Saleem Shezad murder is an international conspiracy and the beneficiary of this event is not the ISI but seems someone else.

  15. June 4, 2011 6:43 am

    Why ISI is fearful of the information that some navy personnel were working for Alqueada?
    Why ISI is fearful of information that Mullah Baradar is released by Pakistan?

  16. public permalink
    June 5, 2011 11:47 am

    dear bloach supporting writers ,its not matter of races n pakistan,govt servents of grade 20 & above misuses their powers & have become masters of fate of pakistan.they hanged Bhutto Sindi & put behind bars Nawaz Punjabi n very disguisting way.they r so shameless that they doesn,t feel what people of pakistan & of world think about punjab,sind,pkk ,commons cannot survive without bribing govt servents.they all faces unjudicial killings,bottom corrupted ,police & other public dealing depts.above all some sectors of the people have started raising sucessful vioces against this system since cheif justice its begning,people r running towards sucess but it will still take time for the it runs n evolutionary way.

  17. khan permalink
    July 6, 2011 7:03 pm

    we r muslims .and this is not necesary that only patan do jihad against pak army and us evil forces.punjabi balochi sindhi please support taliban not corupt paki evils gov.

  18. saim permalink
    November 26, 2011 3:17 pm



  1. RIP Saleem Shahzad « CHUP! – Changing Up Pakistan
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