On Saleem Shahzad’s Brutal Murder and the Military
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.