An PTH contributor has managed to obtain a copy of the statement given by Human Rights Watch (HRW) statement submitted at the Syed Saleem Shahzad Commission set up by the Government of Pakistan. This statement was made by Ali Dayan, Director Human Rights Watch. We are posting it without prejudice. Pakistan’s journalists and writers need protection and PTH fully supports all efforts to this effect. It should be noted that this statement is one of the many submissions and the final verdict is yet to come.
Full statement as a pdf document is here:
An excerpt from the full statement below:
Syed Saleem Shahzad was a reporter for the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online
and for Adnkronos International, the Italian news agency. My dealings with Shahzad
were entirely professional. I had only a passing acquaintance with him. Shahzad
went missing from central Islamabad on the evening of 29 May 2011, on his way to
the studios of Pakistan’s Dunya News. An expert on Islamist militancy, he had just
published a book, Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11. He
had been invited to discuss his reporting on a May 22 attack in which 10 people were
killed on PNS Mehran naval-base in Karachi, allegedly by militants linked to al-
Qaeda. Shahzad’s body, bearing visible signs of torture, was discovered two days
later, on 31 May, near Mandi Bahauddin.
Shahzad had previously complained of threats by ISI agents for his reporting on links
between the ISI and al-Qaeda. On 19 October 2010, Shahzad sent an email to Human
Rights Watch outlining a recent meeting he had had with the ISI and asking for the
email to be released if he or his family were harmed. Shahzad asked Human Rights
Watch to make details of the meeting public “in case something happens to me or
my family in future.” (The email is attached as an appendix below).
Shahzad told Human Rights Watch that he had been threatened by the ISI at the 17
October meeting at the ISI headquarters in Islamabad with the director-general of the
Media Wing of the ISI, Rear Admiral Adnan Nazir, and another ISI official,
Commodore Khalid Pervaiz. Shahzad wrote that the meeting ended with the
following comment from Rear Admiral Nazir, which Shahzad construed as a death
I must give you a favor. We have recently arrested a terrorist and recovered a
lot of data, diaries and other material during the interrogation. The terrorist
had a list with him. If I find your name in the list, I will certainly let you know.
Shahzad sent the same email and information about other threats to Hameed
Haroon, publisher of the English language daily Dawn and president of the All
Pakistan Newspapers Society, and to colleagues at Asia Times Online. All those who
spoke to Shahzad at the time including professional journalists and Human Rights
Watch understood that a threat had been made to his life through the statement
quoted above. In order to place the threat on record, Shahzad wrote an account of
the meeting and emailed it to the recipients.
Commodore Pervaiz was appointed the new commander of the Mehran naval base in
Karachi, the subject of Shahzad’s last story for Asia Times Online, in which he
alleged that al Qaeda had attacked the base in Karachi on 22 May, after talks with
the military to release two naval officials accused of militant links broke down. Later,
in January and March, Shahzad informed Human Rights Watch by telephone of two
other instances where he felt threats were made to him by or on behalf of the ISI by
people who identified themselves as belonging to the agency.
Following her husband’s instructions, Shahzad’s wife, Anita Saleem, informed
Human Rights Watch of her husband’s going missing on 30 May. She told Human
Rights Watch that she had received an anonymous phone call saying that Shahzad
would be released the same evening. I made inquiries and credible sources claimed
that Shahzad was in intelligence agency custody and was expected to be released in
the evening of 30 May. However, despite repeated inquiries, Human Rights Watch
received no official response from the government of Pakistan about Shahzad’s
whereabouts or well-being.
When Shahzad failed to reappear, Human Rights Watch notified the Pakistani and
international media of our grave concern that he had been forcibly disappeared. His
body was found on 31 May near Mandi Bahauddin , bearing signs of torture.
On 1 June, in response to Human Rights Watch’s decision to release Shahzad’s email
to the media and accompanying statements, the ISI issued an unprecedented
statement through an anonymous spokesperson to the state-controlled Associated
Press of Pakistan. The ISI official denied that any threat had been made to Shahzad,
stating that, “The reported e-mail of Mr. Saleem Shahzad to Mr. Ali Hasan Dayan of
HRW” was “being made the basis of baseless allegations leveled against ISI.”
For the full statement please click the link here Ali Dayan Hasan HRW statement to SSS Commission