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US admiral's comments on murdered journalist "extremely irresponsible"

Islamabad’s relationship with the US won’t be helped by Adm Mullen’s remarks the the Parkistan government ‘sanctioned’ journalist’s killing.

June 2011: A Pakistani journalist joins protests against Shahzad's killing.
June 2011: A Pakistani journalist joins protests against Shahzad's killing.
Image: AP Photo/Pervez Masih

PAKISTAN HAS reacted angrily to allegations made by a top US military officer that Islamabad sanctioned the murder of an investigative journalist.

The tortured body of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was found near Islamabad on 31 May, two days after he was reported missing.

The journalist had recently written about links between Pakistani naval officers and al-Qaeda. Shortly before his death, Shahzad told friends and the Human Rights Watch agency that he had been threatened by the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

Yesterday, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen said that he believed the Pakistani government had “sanctioned” Shahzad’s killing, though Mullen added that he could not directly link the ISI with the death.

Hours after Mullen’s comments, Pakistan’s information ministry released a statement referring to Mullen’s remarks as “extremely irresponsible”, the AFP reports. They also said the comments would “not help in investigating the issue.”

Relations between the US and Pakistan are unlikely to be aided by Mullen’s comments. The relationship between the two has been particularly strained since US forces killed Osama bin Laden at his Pakistan compound in a covert operation without Islamabad’s assistance. Questions were also raised about how the al-Qaeda leader had managed to live below the radar of ISI and Pakistan’s government for so long – or if the authorities had known all along and aided him.

Pakistan was the most dangerous country in the world for journalists last year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Of the 44 journalists confirmed to have been killed in 2010, eight died in Pakistan. Iraq was the next most dangerous location, with 5 journalists’ deaths.

- Additional reporting by the AP

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