As we melt in the face of the scorching summer heat, the sort that used to make the British saab bahadurs run to the hills, we are also being squeezed for the last possible drop by other sources too. June is not just synonymous with bathing in the canal or floating in a pool, depending on your social status, it is also associated with the yearly budget of the country. And the pattern of Pakistani budgets has been that the citizens keep paying more and more for less and less. However, apparently that is still the lesser squeeze in the scheme of things when compared to the price paid by Saleem Shahzad, a journalist of repute, who was gruesomely murdered a few days ago. While the rest of the world is changing rapidly and adapting to new economic possibilities or realities, we remain mired in a war on terror and related issues. The powers that be seem unable to come out of a time zone when ugly, arm-twisting methods were considered adequate ways of sending messages to erring journalists. It has been extremely painful and shocking to read of the torture inflicted on Syed Saleem Shahzad and his resultant death. He was a fearless journalist, who had created sources within shadowy outfits and analysed his reports in their light. He had also sent identical emails to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Hameed Haroon, President APNS as well as a former employer and to his present employers (Asia Times Online) on October 18, 2010, about what he perceived were death threats from the ISI. HRW were the first ones to tell the media about it, but were rebutted by the ISI as baseless allegations. Hameed Haroon, in a reaction to that response, has verified that the allegations levied (sic) by HRW at the Inter-Services Intelligence are essentially in complete consonance with the contents of the slain journalists email. While I am not trying to prove who was responsible for the abduction and subsequent murder of Saleem Shahzad, I am laying emphasis on the point that it is no longer possible to get away with wanton acts by whoever commits them. Already, the unthinkable has happened. The head of the ISI has presented himself to Parliament and answered their questions in the light of recent lapses. The genie of a free media stands released from its bottle and cannot be put back. As the slightly changed political slogan goes, tum kitnay sahafi maaro gai, her ghar sai sahafi niklay ga. In recent days, our very own Umar Cheema along with the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and two other journalists have been declared winners of a prestigious British award, the Martha Gellhorn Award for brave reporting. Pakistanis continue to surprise the world by sudden appearances at the very top occasionally, despite being banished to the lowest of the low by circumstances well beyond their control and not of their own making. The judgment for good and bad reporting is now based on perceptions whether it could be described as anti-state or not. If what is being reported stands to benefit the country by exposing the real aims and modus operendi of institutions and organisations and forces a rethink of the way forward, then it can no longer be silenced easily. There will be others who will be willing to take off from where a report remained unfinished to ensure that it reaches its logical conclusion. The only thing permanent in this world is change and the way an organisation or country responds and adapts to change keeps it in step with the world. If policies that worked previously are no longer viable, then they should be discontinued. Across the board, we have to be on the same page. We need to wear blinkers so that we have eyes only for our own national interest and can think about only how to put our own house in order, period. Postscript: Strange is the word that comes to mind when one thinks about the happenings in the corridors of power. After much dillying and dallying and in response to the universal demand of setting up of an independent and impartial enquiry commission for the horrendous events in Abbottabad and Karachi in the month of May, a commission was finally announced by the Prime Minister. Before everyone had even gotten to the stage of heaving sighs of relief, it was discovered that the commission was a non-starter. It left everyone feeling rather stupid for thinking that the country was going to get lucky so quickly Despite the fact that the names announced for the commission were all above board, it came to light that the pre-requisite of consulting with the opposition or even the chosen persons themselves had not been done by the government. It actually means that the impartial enquiry is not really in the interest of some and that some pardah nasheen stand to be exposed by it, thus ways are being found to delay the proceedings. The fact remains that a commission will be formed, sooner or later after consultations, and it will shed light on all that happened, despite some hiccups to its formation. It is the only possible way forward. There was an interesting incompatibility between the statements of Babar Awan who speaking for the government said that Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim had been consulted before his name was announced as part of the commission, and that of Justice Fakhruddin who said Awan was lying. Track records for both can be checked for who is known to be truthful and who is not n The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: