journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, who went missing Sunday amid
speculation that he had been seized by the ISI intelligence
agency, was found murdered Tuesday. A doctor who conducted an
autopsy said Shahzad had been tortured before being killed.
The doctor - appointed by police - said: "It is very disturbing
for all of us. He was beaten to death, both his ribs were broken
and marks of wounds were his left side and on the legs."
Earlier, Dawn newspaper said on its website that Shahzad's body,
with tell-tale torture marks, was found in an area known as Sarai
Alamgir, nearly 200 km from Islamabad.
The well-informed Shahzad was the Pakistan bureau chief of Asia
Times Online. He also worked for the Italian news agency AKI. He
leaves behind his wife and three children - two sons aged 14 and
seven and a daughter aged 12.
He wrote extensively on Islamist outfits in Pakistan and
Afghanistan as well as their linkages with the Pakistani
establishment. His reports were widely read.
Shahzad went missing from Islamabad Sunday evening while going to
the Dunya TV office to take part in a programme related to the
terrorist attack May 22 on a major naval base in Karachi that left
14 people dead.
Since Sunday evening, his mobile phone was switched off.
AKI quoted "informed sources" as saying the body was found near a
police checkpost -- and close to Shahzad's missing car.
"Inside the car were ID cards belonging to Shahzad and another
unnamed person," AKI said.
Police also reported finding a diary in the car with many contacts
listed in it.
Shahzad's brother-in-law Hamza Amer reportedly travelled to the
spot and identified the body, a source told AKI.
Days before his disappearance, Shahzad authored an article for
Asia Times that alleged links between some navy officials and Al
This article, some of his friends said, may have been linked to
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has expressed deep grief and
sorrow over Shahzad's killing.
Gilani said in a statement he took "strong note" of the incident
and has ordered an immediate inquiry into Shahzad's kidnapping and
The prime minister assured that the culprits would be brought to
justice "at every cost".
The present government, Gilani said, strongly believed in freedom
of expression and considered freedom of media as an essential
ingredient to strengthening democratic values and culture.
He expressed his heartfelt condolences to Shahzad's family.
Earlier Tuesday, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan voiced
concern over Shahzad's disappearance and demanded that he be
It said that his abductors must be identified and brought to
No one claimed responsibility for his abduction, but Human Rights
Watch said it may have been carried out by the Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's main and feared intelligence
Media reports also said that Shahzad's friends had reportedly
received telephone calls from purported intelligence officials
saying he would be released soon.
Giuseppe Marra, director of the Adnkronos Group, for which Shahzad
worked as a correspondent in Islamabad since 2004, paid tributes
to the Pakistani journalist.
"Today, our exceptional colleague and very dear friend Syed Saleem
Shahzad concluded his marvellous and epic mission. We will never
forget his phone calls and his illuminating analyses on social and
cutural realities so different from our own," Marra said.
"No one will ever be able to kill our memories of an outstandingly
intrepid and brave colleague," he said, adding that Shahzad was a
man "who viewed journalism as a supreme cultural mission of
In November 2006, Shahzad had been kidnapped by the Taliban in
Afghanistan's Helmand province where he was reporting.
He and another Pakistani journalist were held for a week on
suspicion of spying, "tried" by their captors and released
unharmed after they "confessed" to wrongdoing.