Asif Ali Zardari has expressed deep grief and
sorrow over the kidnapping and murder of Syed
Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online's Pakistan
Bureau Chief, and ordered an immediate inquiry.
The president stressed that his government firmly
believes in freedom of the media and the promotion
of democratic values.
These are honorable
and noble sentiments that will resonate around the
world. The trouble is, like an echo, the words
will quickly fade, and most likely nothing will be
done. It will be business as usual in a country
that had the most journalist deaths in the world
in 2010 - 44 - and four prominent newsmen
killed this year for simply
doing their job.
None of their killers has
been brought to justice. Not one.
as this appalling record continues, and Pakistan
mouths platitudes while its security apparatus -
whether directly or though subcontracting - runs
rampant, the country will never be viewed as a
trusted partner, as the United States has learned
over and over again in the 10 tortuous years that
it has been forced into an embrace with Islamabad.
This is no small matter as the Americans
try to extricate themselves from Afghanistan and
deal with regional extremism. US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton went to the heart of the
matter in commenting on Shahzad's killing: "His
work reporting on terrorism and intelligence
issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles
extremism poses to Pakistan's stability."
The death of Shahzad, just days after he
reported on al-Qaeda links deep inside the
Pakistan navy, is a personal tragedy of
immeasurable proportions, for his family, friends
and colleagues. It is also a tragedy for the
freedom of speech that is enshrined in the
country's constitution, abused yet again by those
who choose to kill rather than listen when they
hear an unpalatable truth.
took sides, he often feared for his life, both at
the hands of militants and at the hands of the
In this tragedy, President Zardari
has an opportunity. He can bring Shahzad's killers
to justice to redeem past wrongs, to take a giant
step towards matching lofty rhetoric with deeds,
to show to the world that Pakistan has the will to
be a trusted partner in the international
By doing so, he will also be
paying the highest respect to a fellow Pakistani
who gave up his life in the pursuit of truth.
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