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Pak scribe murder: No one named in panel's report

January 11, 2012 16:02 IST

The Pakistani judicial commission that probed the abduction and murder of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad has not held any institution or individual responsible for the crime, according to media reports on Wednesday.

Though the commission was given six weeks to investigate the incident after Shahzad was killed in May last year, it took six months to finalise its findings. The commission led by a Supreme Court judge submitted its report to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday.

The report has not held any institution or individual responsible for the abduction, torture and murder of Shahzad, an unnamed member of the commission was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

The Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying that the panel had "stopped short of fixing responsibility for the journalist's killing". The commissions members have agreed that the report would be made public only by the government.

"We have strongly recommended that the report be made public by government as soon as possible," an unnamed member told the Dawn. The commission had failed in the main purpose for which it was formed, The Express Tribune reported.

Under the commission's terms of reference, it was asked to "inquire into the background and circumstance" of Shahzad's murder and to "indentify the culprits involved" in the crime. Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists president Pervaiz Shaukat, a member of the commission, said that while the panel had not held anyone directly responsible, it had included its doubts and concerns in the report.

The report included PFUJs recommendations for the safety and welfare of journalists and for the financial aid to be provided to Shahzads family, Shaukat said. The commission asked the government to establish an ombudsmans office to redress grievances of journalists.

It asked the government the bear the expenses for the education of Shahzads children and to provide his family financial compensation worth Rs 3 million. The commission finalised its report after recording the statements of 41 individuals, including representatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, police officers and journalists.

Shaukat said the government had given an assurance that it will take action against the culprits in accordance with the findings of the commission. Shahzad was abducted while driving from his house to a television station in Islamabad on May 29 last year, two days after he alleged in an article that al-Qaeda had infiltrated the Pakistan Navy.

His body, bearing marks of severe torture, was found the next day in a canal near Mandi Bahauddin, a district of Punjab province. Rights groups and journalists' bodies had alleged that he was killed by the ISI, a charge denied by the spy agency.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad