Back in the Swat debacle, he was an embedded journalist of sorts with the Taliban for a little while. When he had initially introduced himself to their spokesperson Muslim Khan, he was surprised to find that the latter followed his work online.
Yes, everybody read Saleem Shahzad. Everybody with an interest in security issues in the region. Everybody, including those his reports would incriminate. Was that the reason he was tortured and then brutally killed? Perhaps. The organisation being blamed by many for his murder isn’t breaking PR silence after the incident. Eerily quiet. Even if there is some spin out eventually, it won’t convince anyone but the pathologically naïve. Dead men tell no tales; he is said to have conveyed to Human Rights Watch some time ago that his life was under threat from those certain quarters.
Mr Shahzad was a feet-on-the-ground reporter, the sort of person whose personal knowledge of the issues at hand could not possibly be replicated by op-ed types. While the latter liberati counter-productively blamed the ANP-PPP government for the Swat peace deal, it was Mr Shahzad’s reporting – including that of some other brave souls – that revealed all was not what it seemed between the militants and the armed forces in the original Operation Rah-e-Haq. Similarly, while the self-important bloggers merely conjectured the number of possibilities that might have led to the PNS Mehran incident, Mr Shahzad went ahead and did a brilliant investigative story, the second part of which was fated to not see the press. Was it this particular story that led to his murder, a previous one that might have offended someone else (there were many) or was there something devastating that he knew and was going to make public soon?
For purposes of formality: the government should make all efforts to protect journalists and ensure they have easy access to information.
A futile plea, the above, because it is not the will of the political government that is the problem here. It is the proliferation of non-state actors and the unbridled empowerment of institutions that are states within themselves that are to be blamed.