What is truth? According to Merriam-Webster, truth is defined as: fact, the body of real things, an idea that is true or accepted as true, and reality. What then is a journalist? A journalist is a writer who aims at a mass audience through the medium of journalism. Journalism is writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or a description of events without an attempt at interpretation. This means a journalism is a writer that writes truth without personal opinion based upon fact and reality.
Syed Saleem Shahzad was the Pakistan Bureau Chief of Asia Times Online, covering issues of global security, focusing on Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Shahzad has reported on Islamist movements, taking him to Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Syria and the UAE.
Shahzad introduced the world to Al-Qaeda and Sheikh Essa . His interviews include:
Sirajuddin Haqqani, Qari Ziaur Rahman and Ilyas Kashmiri.
In November of 2007, Saleem Shahzad, journalist and photojournalist, constructed a brief on Pakistan Security Research Unit (PSRU) entitled: The Gathering Strength of Taliban and Tribal Militants in Pakistan. Shahzad’s brief focuses on extremism, terrorism, nuclear weapons, internal stability and cohesion, as well as a resource for anyone interested in the security of Pakistan.
To quote Saleem: “The unending Pakistan/NATO/US military operations in the tribal areas, which are seen by Taliban and tribal groups as being fought for a complete victory and without a will for political reconciliation, have radicalized Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.”
“After 9/11, a very rustic religious zeal and the Taliban’s affinity with Pakistani tribal groups was the reason behind providing shelter to the Arab-Afghan Diaspora in South Waziristan and North Waziristan, but Washington-sponsored Pakistan’s half hearted military operations in 2002-03 sparked united some of the force in a shared war of retribution.”
What Saleem is presenting is an investigative document based on historical fact and research without imbibing his own opinion. What then again is truth? The body of real things. A journalist? A writer who aims at an audience with a direct presentation of fact without adding his own opinion.
On May 31, 2011, Saleem Shahzad was found dead. Syed Saleem Shahzad went missing on Sunday, after he left his home in the capital to take part in a talk show, but never arrived. He disappeared two days after writing an investigative report in Asia Times Online that Al-Qaeda carried out last week’s attack on a naval air base to avenge the arrest of naval officials arrested on suspicion of Al-Qaeda links.”
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists and Democracy Now have issued public statements regarding the abject horror over one mans death. In 2006, Saleem were captured by Taliban in Afghanistan, yet he remained alive.
Refer to Saleem’s 2007 brief: “As Western-backed military operations continue, Taliban numbers are rising steeply and their confidence is growing. They have even been joined by some Pakistan Army officers who have resigned from the Pakistan Army.”
He continues with: “The Taliban are planning to take the war to Pakistan and Afghanistan’s major cities and to build an Islamic Emirates. The more the US-backed war is prolonged, the more sophistication the Taliban will be in their strategic development.”
Read the above sentence again and and again. That was 2007.
On May 20, 2011, 11 days before his untimely death, Saleem Shahzad’s new book was released: “Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11″ through Pluto Press in the UK. On May 04, Shahzad wrote of the death of Osama Bin Laden. In April, he wrote of his new book release, along with Pakistan and Taliban. In Feb 2011, Saleem wrote of Jihadis, Moscow and Al-Qaeda.
The Constitution of Pakistan states in the Preamble: “Therein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality.”
In Part II: Chapter 1: Fundamental Rights: Article 19: “Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, commission of, or incitement to an offence.”
Read that again.
Saleem’s body showed signs of torture, after it was found some six miles [10 kilometers] from his car, an initial exam found signs of severe torture marks on his body.
Article 5: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Saleem Shahzad was a journalist in the truest sense. He presented fact without his own opinion based on research. Why then is he not alive?
Article 19: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Saleem Shahzad is survived by his wife and three children. Purchase his book through Pluto Press to further his work in journalism and assist his family in their time of such unnecessary loss.