Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed “new classified intelligence” showing a direct hand of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in the murder of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad as an international conspiracy to malign the country's security forces.
Reacting to The New York Times report which claimed that senior ISI officials had directed the attack on Shahzad to quell mounting criticism of security forces following the Abbottabad raid and the terrorist siege of a naval airbase, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said: “There is an international conspiracy to malign the law enforcement agencies and security forces. [These allegations] are part of that controversy.”
Adding more fuel to fire, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley - who had to resign earlier this year following his comments on the treatment of Bradley Manning (arrested on suspicion of transferring classified information to Wikileaks) - tweeted: “The story about the ISI role in the murder of Shahzad is another salvo in the ongoing intelligence war with Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) representative in Pakistan Ali Dayan Hasan - who was the first to sound an alarm when Shahzad went missing - said “the U.S. Government should make public any intelligence that helps hold his murderers accountable”. The HRW position is that if there is any such intelligence, then it should be made public in an attributable and actionable manner so that those responsible can be held accountable.
Mr. Hasan was one of the three people whom Shahzad had confided in about the threats he had received from the ISI in October 2010. And, after Shahzad went missing on May 29, the HRW representative was the first person the journalist's wife contacted; sending alarm bells ringing till his body turned up in a canal south of Islamabad.