With the shooting of Mukarram Khan Aatif on Tuesday, the once high-profile case of Saleem Shahzad has almost been overtaken by events. The day before Aatif’s death, Umar Cheema had sent me a link to his analysis of the judicial inquiry into the killing of Saleem Shahzad.
Cheema’s long piece in The News, which takes a close look at the report, is not as dismissive as others have been. He singles out a paragraph of the report noting that the Commission does not exonerate government agencies from having a part in Shahzad’s killing:
From the overwhelming material available on the record, the Commission is convinced that there are sufficient reasons to believe that the agencies, including ISI, have been using coercive and intimidating tactics in dealing with those journalists who antagonize the Agency’s interest.
But, Cheema says, it is still not clear who the perpetrators were, and the judicial panel raised some serious questions. He said his editors told him his analysis was getting too long, so on January 14 he posted some of the points he couldn’t get into the paper on his Twitter account @UmarCheema1 — scroll down his Twitter feed, you’ll get to them.
As I’ve been saying in interviews since the report was made public, such judicial commissions seldom reach a conclusive finding, and what is needed is good solid police work: A criminal investigation, a hearing that leads to a trial, and a conviction of the people who carried out the crime. That seldom happens in Pakistan, in the case of the murders of journalists or any other Pakistani, and it is the lack of such a process that leads to Pakistan’s vast climate of impunity