A daring and well-connected journalist, Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was kidnapped from Islamabad three days ago has been killed by unknown captors.

The Punjab police have found his body from the Head Rasool area in Mandi-Bahauddin on Tuesday after he remained missing for 40 hours while his car was found from Sarai Alamgir, some 35 kilometres from the scene.

Syed Saleem Shahzad was Bureau Chief of the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online and abducted on Sunday evening when he was going to participate in a TV show on a private TV channel in the evening.

Evidence indicates that after ensuring the death of Saleem Shahzad, the kidnappers dumped his body in the nstream and got entangled in the net close to Rasool Barrage. The net has been placed permanently because incidents of drowning in this canal are too high and it helps recover the bodies of unfortunate victims.

Apparently the kidnappers after dumping the body travelled back in the same vehicle to Sarai Alamgir where they abandoned the vehicle and made good their escape.

Saleem Shahzad body was recovered late Tuesday evening and handed over to his heirs. The Islamabad administration facilitated to send the dead body to Karachi where he would be laid to rest. He left three children and a wife to mourn.

The journalist community is pointing finger towards intelligence agencies, expressing suspicions that the agencies might have picked him up as they were very disturbed due to his critical stance towards the army.

Shahzad left his house at Nazimuddin Road, F-8/4 at about 5:30 pm on Sunday evening in his Toyota Corolla bearing registration number ALR-085 to participate in a TV program scheduled at 6:00 pm but neither he reached the TV Bureau at Margalla Road nor remained in contact with his family or friends. His mobile is not traceable yet.

His mobile phone was switched off at 5.42 pm, as pointed out in the mobile phone data obtained from the mobile phone company and at that time, his location was found at F-6/2, Margalla Road, close to the TV Bureau.

TIME magazine's website, in its report regarding the killing of Saleem Shahzad, published May 31, quoted Ali Dayan Hasan, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, having received a call from Shahzad's wife. "He had told her that I was one of the people that should be called in case anything happens to him," says Hasan. "He had feared for sometime that something like this would happen to him."

Later, Human Rights Watch says it was able to establish that Shahzad was being held by the ISI. "We were informed through reliable interlocutors that he was detained by the ISI," says Hasan. Those interlocutors, he adds, had received direct confirmation from the agency that it was detaining Shahzad. In any case, Hasan says, "in a high-security zone like Islamabad, it is only the ISI that can affect the disappearance of man and his car without a trace."

The Human Rights Watch was also told that Shahzad was supposed to return home on Monday night. "The relevant people were informed that his telephone would be switched on first, enabling him to communicate with his family," says Hasan. "They were told that he would return home soon after." But by 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Shahzad had still not been heard from. At that point, Hasan recalled that Shahzad had sent him an e-mail on Oct. 18, 2010, that was to be released in the event of his disappearance. At the time, says Hasan, he was "fairly sure that sooner or later something was going to happen." The Human Rights Watch says it has made repeated attempts to contact Pakistan's government and establish Shahzad's whereabouts, but has received no response."

Ali Dayan Hasan, however, when contacted by this correspondent for his comments said, "What is published in 'Time' should be asked from them." He said, "My organization Human Rights Watch got information from 'very credible sources' that ISI has picked Saleem Shahzad." I have provided 'TIME' with the same information. He said that one thing should be clear that he was never informed by anyone in this regard. "I will say that Human Rights Watch got this information from its very credible sources that ISI has picked up Saleem Shahzad," repeated Dayan Hasan.

After Saleem Shahzad disappeared, fingers were pointed towards intelligence agencies, the journalist community expressed their suspicions that the agencies might have picked him up as they were very disturbed due to his critical stance towards the army.

However, there is hardly any evidence available in which our intelligence agencies, especially the ISI, which is almost immediately and most emphatically accused of involvement, where they have killed any person, journalist or other, in such a hurry.

As is being so widely discussed after Saleem Shahzad's death was confirmed it seems that he had not only annoyed the people in the intelligence agencies but also had enemies among the ranks of Taliban and al-Qaeda too and eventually had stepped on some sensitive toes that may have resulted in such extreme violent reaction.

It also appears that the people who kidnapped Saleem Shahzad never intended to make any ransom demands because in such cases they usually head for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and beyond into the Tribal Areas where they find sanctuaries without much ado.

According to the circumstantial evidence and sources, apparently the kidnappers quickly moved out of Islamabad after overpowering Saleem Shahzad and headed towards Jhelum after sun-set. It is worth mentioning that till reaching Sarai Alamgir, a few kilometres ahead of Jhelum city towards Gujrat, the kidnappers, who were travelling in Saleem Shahzad's own car, had to cross at least two or three police check points inside Islamabad Capital Territory up to Rawat and then they were required to pass through three Toll Plazas located at Mandra, Sohawa and on the river Jhelum, where police is always present. At least Police Mobile squads are there.

This indicates that either Saleem Shahzad was already unconscious or he was somehow made to keep quiet while passing through these check points. If he had felt the danger and was in his full senses or conscious, he would have tried to call for help.

There are also indicators in the unfortunate incident that the kidnappers were in too much of a hurry to get rid of him and soon after reaching Sarai Alamgir, they took the Jhelum canal side road linking with Mandi Bahauddin. It seems that they did not travel much deep on the link road and killed the journalist after inflicting severe physical torture upon him, as revealed in the post mortem report which says that there were signs of wounds and even some ribs were broken too.

APP adds: President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, former president Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani, MNA Farahnaz Ispahani, permanent representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Syed Munawar Hassan, secretary general Liaquat Baloch and senior PPP leader Asma Arbab Alamgir have condemned the killing of Saleem Shahzad.

In their separate statements they expressed heartfelt shock over the killing of the journalist and demanded immediate arrest of the killers.The president and the prime minister ordered immediate inquiry into the kidnapping and murder of Saleem Shahzad. Both the leaders also expressed determination to bring the culprits to justice.

Prime Minister Gilani also rang up the widow of Saleem Shahzad and expressed his heartfelt condolence over his tragic death. The prime minister assured her that the matter would be investigated and culprits would be brought to justice.