ISLAMABAD: Pakistani investigative reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad has been posthumously awarded an Italian journalism prize after he was abducted and killed by unknown assassins in Pakistan last month.
Italy's Ischia Prize Foundation granted Shahzad its International Journalism Award in a unanimous decision by the jury. The annual prize honours excellence in journalism and communication.
Shahzad was Pakistan correspondent for the Italian news agency Adnkronos International (AKI) and the Hong-Kong based Asia Times Online as well as Italian daily La Stampa, it said.
He was found dead 150 kilometres southwest of Islamabad on May 31, two days after he disappeared in the capital.
Enquiring and enthusiastic, he did in-depth reporting in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he interviewed various jihadist commanders, as well as in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan, Iran, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.
He was kidnapped by Taliban militants in Afghanistan's Helmand province on November 26, 2006 together with another Pakistani journalist, held for a week and subjected to a mock trial before being released near the Pakistan border.
He leaves a widow and three children aged 7, 10 and 13. Shahzad's widow Anita will collect the award. The award ceremony will be held in Ischia, Italy, on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th of July.
“Through his articles published by AKI, and his in-depth reports and stories for the various dailies he worked for, Syed Saleem Shahzad managed to bring to an Italian audience the complex reality of that region of the world of which he was an acute and intrepid observer. He paid with his life for his desire to tell the truth at all costs.”
“An expert in international terrorism, Shahzad with his illuminating analyses of international terrorism, and the social and cultural reality so different from our own, he embodied a passionate and courageous model for journalism which viewed the profession as the supreme mission for peace and culture,” the Ischia Prize Foundation's message said.