ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Army on Thursday slammed Human Rights Watch (HRW) for its report that accused the country’s premier spy agency for killing a journalist in a press statement it issued last month.
Military’s strong-worded response, that came over two weeks after the aforesaid statement was issued, rubbished the findings of HRW incorporated in its report whose summary was released on January 30.
The HRW had pointed fingers at Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and security establishment for killing Saleem Shahzad, the slain reporter of Asia Times Online. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) termed the press release “extremely derogatory, biased and contradictory in terms.”
It accused Asia Times Director Brad Adams of discrediting the Judicial Commission that investigated Saleem Shehzad’s alleged murder, demonising the ISI and castigating the Government of Pakistan.” It said, “The report goes on to suggest a darker destination of evidence if pursued again. It is unclear where Mr Adams forms opinions like these but one thing is evident that his thought process and ability to logically analyse a given situation suffers from serious bias.”
“Brad Adams may have his head buried deep in sand and HRW may be choking under heaps of bias but it is quite apparent that such diatribe is exceptionally disparaging despite an ‘extensive examination’ by the commission, to quote HRW press release. It raises serious questions on the partisan nature of HRW and Brad Adam’s objectivity.”
In his story printed on May 27 last year, Shahzad had reported about the alleged nexus between militants and some Pakistan Navy officials. Two days later, he was abducted from a highly secured area of Islamabad and the journalist’s tortured body was found alongside a drain near Mandi Bahauddin some 130 kilometres away from Islamabad on May 31.
The ISPR insisted that the Judicial Commission was headed by a “Very honourable judge of the same Supreme Court of Pakistan which is highly respected for its integrity and courage of conviction.”
“To expect the Judicial Commission probing Saleem Shehzad’s alleged murder headed by Justice Saqib Nisar, to spare or shy away from the so-called ‘culpable ISI’ is not only disrespectful but also out of character of the honourable court.”
“We would seriously urge HRW to read the report of the commission of enquiry into the incident and see facts as they are,” ISPR said referring to the statements of Shahzad’s close friends and acquaintances recorded before the commission, none of whom, military claims, “pointed a finger towards anyone”
In July last year, the HRW had printed a detailed report “We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years” accusing Pakistan’s security forces for enforced disappearances in Balochistan