I would like to encourage everybody, or anybody really, to go to this link and donate whatever they can, or whatever they feel like: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/MF08Aa01.html.
This is a trust for the family of Syed Saleem Shahzad, a man I knew not very well, but well enough to know that his death two weeks ago is a loss for us all.
Saleem was picked up on his way from his home in Islamabad, where he’d moved just a few weeks ago from Karachi because of safety concerns. He never made it. His body showed major damage, blunt force injury to his rib cage, face unrecognizable, etc.
A prior lung injury meant he died sooner than his attackers anticipated. Thankfully.
Saleem was extraordinary for his contacts in the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban. He used to go sneaking about in Waziristan, which I don’t know how many people here realize is an extraordinary thing to do.
The ISI are implicated in Saleem’s death; the rumour is he was taken because of a story he did on the naval attack in Karachi in early May. This was clearly al-Qaeda-sponsored, but Saleem made the link Ã a major embarrassment for the ISI, and they kill for much less, especially if Ã like Saleem Ã you’d been warned more than once already.
Saleem was a rare breed, and I was so grateful for his time and insight. We’d chat by Skype and email, and his expectations of others, as for himself, were high.
His sources were the best, during an era when talking to the other side will get you killed (as it did Saleem). He was round-faced, laid back, deeply committed, rather bookish and with all the real courage that you see among the ordinary, as opposed to the phoney bravado more often on display in public.
Saleem was the real deal, which of course is why he’s dead.
Saleem’s reporting was his legacy, and it was extraordinary, a real gift, but Saleem of course was also a human being, which means he left a wife and three kids, one a teenager, but the other two very young.
Inflation in Pakistan is now 40 per cent, but over and above the inevitable financial hardship, please consider the (real) harassment Saleem’s family may soon confront.
On a recent trip to a dissident’s home in that area, I found human shit all over the doorstep Ã local soldiers were using the entrance to the family home as a urinal Ã and an uncle without fingernails after a spot in detention, but at home long enough to deliver a fresh set of clothes to the detainee, who has since disappeared in the prison system.
Saleem was not a dissident, but I worry about his family’s security, given the circumstances of his death. It may soon become very bad for them.
So I am seeking assistance to obtain refugee status for Saleem’s wife and his family, if they wish this, but in the meantime any financial assistance you can offer will be sincerely appreciated given the loss of the family breadwinner in a country where fresh potable water is a luxury for most.
Even $100 is a major donation in such a location.
Please consider this appeal a contribution to the dedication shown by local reporters everywhere.
Anyone who has worked overseas as a journalist understands that we are all but newborn babes in a dangerous world without our minders and fixers, who help us make our stories while keeping us safe, even while their own families live in hardship.
Saleem was so much more than that, a real treasure, both as a human being and as a journalist, and his loss is deeply felt. Allahu akhbar, Saleem.
Rest in peace, and God be with you.