Investigative journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad’s body was found near his car 150 km southeast of Islamabad on 31 May 2011, two days after he had been reported missing. Colleagues said he was last seen leaving his home in the centre of Islamabad to go to Dunya TV to participate in show. He never arrived.
A reporter for the Italian news agency Adnkronos and the Hong Kong-based Asia Times news website, he had been investigating the links between the Pakistani army and Al-Qaeda prior to his death. His last story was about an attack by suspected Al-Qaeda members on a naval base at Mehran, near Karachi, on 22 May 2011 in which 11 soldiers and several militants were killed. His article talked of an extensive Al-Qaeda network within the Pakistani navy and of secret negotiations between the military and Al-Qaeda in North Waziristan.
Many Pakistani journalists and human rights NGOs blamed his death on the military intelligence agency known as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which had warned him several times about his stories. The judicial committee that the government appointed on 16 June 2011 to shed light on Shahzad’s abduction and death was a disappointment. In the findings that it submitted to the government on 10 January 2012, it said it was impossible to conclude that the intelligence services were responsible for Shahzad’s death. Reporters Without Borders condemned the report’s findings, as it was clear that the ISI had refused to cooperate despite all the evidence pointing to its role in his death. Reporters Without Borders also voiced outrage at the intimidation of Shahzad’s family during the enquiry, the lack of coordination between the different authorities and their manifest lack of interest in getting to the bottom of the case.
More than four years have gone by since his murder without any perpetrators or masterminds being arrested and there is no sign of any new investigation being launched.