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commission gets Saleem Shahzad’s phone record

The slain journalist Saleem Shahzad.

ISLAMABAD: The judicial commission investigating the murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad received the unofficial record of his cellphone on Wednesday.

The commission headed by Justice Saqib Nisar met here in the Supreme Court building.

After analysing the record, the commission made a special request to television anchor Asma Chaudhry and producer of her talk show Ms Ismat to record their statements because the last call made from Shahzad’s phone was to Ms Ismat at around 5pm on May 29.

Ms Asma and Ms Ismat told the commission that Mr Shahzad said in the call that he was leaving his house and would reach their office in time for recording the programme related to the attack on PNS Mehran airbase in Karachi.

Ms Asma said: “When he did not turn up, we called him at his cellphone at 5.40pm, but it was switched off. Later, we recorded the programme without Mr Shahzad.”

She said when his family called her between 1.30am and 2am to inquire about Mr Shahzad, she aired tickers on her TV channel about his disappearance.

Ms Asma told the commission that Mr Shahzad had announced during her earlier programme on the PNS Mehran attack to do a revealing story over the storming of the naval base in the next programme for which he was coming to the office of the television channel before going missing.

When members of the commission asked her about the possible kidnappers, Ms Asma said her role as an anchorperson was only to conduct programmes. “We are not aware of the overall dealings of our guests.”

The commission recorded the statements of doctors of Mandi Bahauddin Civil Hospital and Pims Hospital, Islamabad, who conducted the autopsy of Mr Shahzad.

The commission was informed that the late journalist had 15 torture marks on his body, but no bullet wounds.

Dr Ashok Kumar of Pims apprised the commission of the nature of the wounds and the condition of the body.

A member of the commission told Dawn that Dr Kumar declined to offer his personal comments to the queries made by members of the commission and only discussed the contents of the autopsy report.

Shahid Nadeem Baloch, the chief of the FIA’s cyber crime wing, informed the commission that his department was trying to access the password of Mr Shahzad’s cellphone and email data.

Members of the commission expressed concern over non-cooperation by senior journalists and said 18 journalists were requested to record their statements, but only nine had done so.

The next meeting of commission will be held in Lahore next week and its members will visit the place where the body of Mr Shahzad was found and police stations concerned in Mandi Bahauddin.

The date and time of the visit will be kept secret for security reasons.

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