Pak`s ISI denies role in journo’s killing

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 23:07

Islamabad: Pakistan`s powerful
Inter-Services Intelligence agency on Wednesday denied any
involvement in the killing of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad
and said the incident should not be used to "target and
malign" the country`s security agencies.

"Baseless accusations against the country`s
sensitive agencies for their alleged involvement in Shahzad`s
murder are totally unfounded," an ISI official said.

It is "regrettable that some sections of the media
have taken upon themselves to use" Shahzad`s death for
"targeting and maligning the ISI," the official was quoted as
saying by state-run APP news agency.

The ISI made a rare public statement after Pakistani
journalists` organisations and rights groups like Human Rights
Watch alleged that Shahzad was abducted by the ISI two days
after he reported that al-Qaeda had infiltrated the Pakistan
Navy.

Shahzad went missing in Islamabad on Sunday evening
and his body, bearing marks of severe torture, was
subsequently found in Punjab province.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered a probe into
the murder. The ISI official, who spoke to APP on condition of
anonymity because of the sensitive nature of his job,
described Shahzad`s death as "unfortunate and tragic" and said
it was "a source of concern for the entire nation".

The incident should not be used to "target and
malign" security agencies, the official said.

Months before he went missing, Shahzad sent an email
to a Human Rights Watch researcher Ali Dayan Hasan in which he
wrote about being called in to the ISI headquarters by two
officials to discuss a report he had authored about Afghan
Taliban leader Mullah Biradar being freed by Pakistani
authorities to facilitate back channel talks with the US.

Shahzad also indicated in the same email that one of
the ISI officials had issued him a veiled threat.

However, the ISI official told APP: "The reported
meeting between the journalist and ISI officials of the
Information Management Wing was held on October 17, 2010 to
discuss a story he had done for Asia Times Online on October
15, and the meeting had nothing sinister about it."

The official added: "It is part of the (Information
Management) Wing`s mandate to remain in touch with the
journalist community.

The main objective behind all such interactions is
provision of accurate information on matters of national
security. ISI also makes it a point to notify institutions and
individuals alike of any threat warning received about them."

The official further said that Shahzad`s email to
Dayan of Human Rights Watch was "being made the basis of
baseless allegations levelled against the ISI" and has "no
veiled or unveiled threats in it".

The official noted that Shahzad had written in his
email that his conversation with the ISI officials "was held
in an extremely polite and friendly atmosphere".

"In the absence of any evidence and when an
investigation is still pending, such allegations (are)
tantamount to unprofessional conduct on the part of the
media," the official said. PTI

The ISI "offers its deepest and heartfelt
condolence" to Shahzad`s family and "assures them that it will
leave no stone unturned in helping to bring the perpetrators
of this heinous crime to justice", the official said.

The media "should act with responsibility to avoid
any possible legal course" the official said.
"It should refrain from baseless allegations against
the ISI that seek to deliberately malign the organization in
the eyes of the people of Pakistan," he said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 - 23:07

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