Shahzad killing: Media organisation chief criticises ISI

June 3rd, 2011 - 2:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Karachi, June 3 (IANS) The head of a Pakistani media organisation has criticised the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) for terming as baseless the charge levelled by Human Rights Watch over the spy agency’s involvement in the brutal killing of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad.

Shahzad, 40, was kidnapped in Islamabad Sunday and his body, bearing marks of severe torture, was found in a canal in Punjab province Tuesday.

He is widely believed to have been seized by intelligence officials for alleging that terrorists attacked a key naval base in Karachi May 22 after the navy refused to free sailors held for suspected militant links.

Hameed Haroon, president of All Pakistan Newspapers Society, said in a statement that an ISI spokesman has questioned the “baseless allegations” levelled by Human Rights Watch on the basis of an email from Saleem Shahzad.

An unnamed ISI official had said that “the reported e-mail of Shahzad to Ali Hasan Dayan of HRW (Human Rights Watch) which is being made the basis of baseless allegations levelled against ISI has no veiled or unveiled threats in it”.

Dawn quoted Haroon as saying: “The email in the possession of Ali Dayan, the monitor for Human Rights Watch (HRW) stationed in Lahore is indeed one of the three identical emails sent by Shahzad to HRW, his employers (Asia Times Online) and to his former employer, myself. (Also) the allegations levelled by HRW at the ISI are essentially in complete consonance with the contents of the slain journalist`s email.”

“…for the information of the officers involved in Shahzad’s gruesome murder that the late journalist confided to me and several others that he had received death threats from various officers of the ISI on at least three occasions in the past five years. Whatever the substance of these allegations, they form an integral part of Shahzad’s last testimony.”

Haroon added that in the last threat Oct 18, 2010 “he (Shahzad) recounted the details of his meetings at the ISI headquarters in Islamabad between the Director General Media Wing (ISI), Rear Admiral Adnan Nazir, with the Deputy Director General of the Media Wing, Commodore Khalid Pervaiz, also being present on the occasion”.

He went on to say that “the ostensible agenda for this meeting was the subject of Shahzad’s story of Asia Times Online with respect to the Pakistan government freeing of senior Afghan Taliban commander, Mullah Baraadar…The senior officials present suggested to Mr Shahzad that he officially deny the story, which he refused to do, terming the official`s demand as `impractical’.”

“The senior intelligence official was `curious` to identify the source of Shahzad`s story. Shahzad stated that the Rear-Admiral offered him some information, ostensibly `as a favour’in the following words: `We have recently arrested a terrorist and have recovered a lot of data, diaries and other materials during the interrogation. The terrorist had a hit-list with him. If I find your name on the list I will certainly let you know”.

Shahzad later told Haroon that he not only interpreted this conversation as a veiled threat, he also said that he let an ISI official know that he intended to share the content of this threat with his colleagues, Dawn said.

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