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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stop Using Saleem Shahzad’s Death To Target ISI

An ISI spokesperson is quoted by the Associated Press of Pakistan as describing journalist Syed Saleem Shehzad’s death as ‘a source of concern for the entire nation’. He also indirectly accuses unidentified elements of using the murder to ‘malign’ the country’s premier intelligence agency.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—The unfortunate and tragic death of Syed Saleem Shahzad is a source of concern for the entire nation but the incident should not be used to target and malign the country’s security agencies, said an ISI official Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the job. “The reported meeting between the journalist and ISI officials of the Information Management Wing was held on 17th October 2010 to discuss a story he had done for Asia Online on 15th October, and the meeting had nothing sinister about it,” said the official.

“It is part of the Wing’s mandate to remain in touch with the journalist community. 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”, he said.
The ISI official said that “the reported e-mail of Mr. Saleem Shahzad to Mr. Ali Hasan Dayan of HRW which is being made the basis of baseless allegations leveled against ISI has no veiled or unveiled threats in it.”
The official pointed out that in the words of Mr. Syed Saleem Shahzad himself, “the conversation was held in an extremely polite and friendly atmosphere and there was no mince word in the room at any stage”.
“It is regrettable that some sections of the media have taken upon themselves to use the incident for targeting and maligning the ISI,” said the official. “Baseless accusations against the country’s sensitive agencies for their alleged involvement in Shahzad’s murder are totally unfounded. 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 “ISI offers its deepest and heartfelt condolence to the bereaved 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 stated.
At the same time, said the ISI official, the media should act with responsibility to avoid any possible legal course. 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.

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