Silence over Pakistani journalist's killing 'embarrassing': Italian politician

Indo Asian News Service

Rome, Dec 3 (IANS/AKI) The world's silence over the unsolved 2011 murder of investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad in Pakistan is an embarrassment, Italy's rightwing Brothers of Italy party leader Giorgia Meloni said.

"The international community's silence is embarrassing. It prefers to look the other way in order not to compromise its relations with a military and nuclear power like Pakistan," Meloni stated.

The most basic rights such as freedom of thought and freedom of worship "are no longer guaranteed" in Pakistan, Meloni said.

"This is apparent in the case of reporter Saleem Shahzad and the dramatic plight of (Pakistani Christian woman) Asia Bibi who spend nine years on death row on blasphemy charges that were medieval," she went on.

"And now that she has been acquitted and has been released from jail, she has to live under police protection due to death threats from Islamists," Meloni said.

Parallels have been drawn between the case Shahzad, whose badly tortured body was recovered from a canal in northeast Pakistan on May 31, 2011, and that of slain Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, whose tortured, mutilated corpse was dumped by a highway outside Cairo, ten days after he disappeared in the Egyptian capital on January 25, 2016.

Shahzad vanished in Islamabad on his way to give a TV interview, on May 29, 2011 after writing an article on alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistan's navy while Regeni had been researching the Egypt's trade union movement - a sensitive topic - at the time of his disappearance.

In an interview with AKI last week, Shahzad's widow Anita Saleem said she feared the truth about her husband's murder would never be known and saw similarities unsolved Regeni case.

A government-appointed commission of enquiry in 2012 failed to establish who was responsible for Shahzad's murder. Italian and Egyptian probes in to Regeni's killing have also not led to any arrests or a trial.

Shahzad worked as a correspondent for AKI and was Pakistan Bureau Chief for Asia Times Online. Writing under a pseudonym, Regeni, a PhD student at Cambridge University, had published articles in Italian media that were critical of Egypt's government.

--IANS/AKI

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