National Press Club urges swift probe of Pakistani journalist’s murder
June 8, 2011 | By John Donnelly | JDonnelly@cq.com
The National Press Club urged Pakistani authorities on June 6 to swiftly investigate and prosecute the murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad, a Pakistani reporter who was found dead last week after having been tortured.
On Monday, the National Press Club hosted representatives of Pakistani news organizations in the United States to mourn the death of Shahzad, a correspondent for Asia Times. Speakers at the event included Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, and representatives of Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch.
Shahzad had written about ties between al Qaeda and Pakistan’s intelligence service and he reportedly had received death threats from members of the intelligence agency. As a result, speculation has pointed to the agency as a possible suspect in his death.
Whoever is responsible should be found and prosecuted, said National Press Club President Mark Hamrick, a broadcast journalist with the Associated Press.
“We urge the Pakistani government to bring Shahzad's killers to justice and to do more to help journalists do their jobs without fearing for their safety,” Hamrick said. “This is not about interfering in Pakistan’s domestic affairs. This is about enforcing the rule of law and the most basic aspirations toward a civil society.”
At Monday’s event, Ambassador Haqqani, himself a former journalist, also called for justice in Shahzad’s case and for a halt to the cycle of killings of reporters in Pakistan.
Shahzad “did not deserve to die,” Haqqani said.
Shahzad’s death illustrates the fact that Pakistan was the most dangerous place in the world for journalists in 2010, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Unfortunately, Pakistan has many competitors in the race to the bottom as places where reporters are in peril, Hamrick said.
“The National Press Club urges a halt worldwide to physical intimidation and detention of reporters and a cessation of all forms of censorship,” Hamrick said.