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For Many In Pakistan, An 'Acute Feeling Of Despair'

The world is anxiously watching events in Pakistan, an already dangerous nation that has gotten even more violent in the wake of the May 2 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. commandos who raided his hiding place in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

On Morning Edition today, host Steve Inskeep filed two reports from Islamabad that offer insights into the potentially explosive situation in Pakistan.

Steve followed up on Tuesday's news about the killing of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, who had reported extensively about the possible ties between terrorists and the Pakistani intelligence services and military.

As Pakistan's Dawnreports, authorities and doctors say Shahzad was tortured. His family and friends want an investigation into who was responsible — terrorists or, possibly, government agents.

Shahzad's friends and fellow journalists, Steve notes, fear his killing will cause some reporters "to think twice about what they write." As Steve says, they already knew, but now have fresh and deadly evidence, that "militants can become vindictive if they don't like the coverage" they're getting in the news media and that "so can government security agencies."

In the second of his reports today, Steve spoke with Najam Sethi, editor of Lahore's The Friday Times.

Many Pakistanis, Sethi said, have an "acute feeling of despair." They feel as if they are "surrounded by hostile nations" and are being attacked from within by terrorists.

Meanwhile, Sethi said there are unprecedented "grumblings" among some junior officers in the Pakistani military about the U.S.-led war against al-Qaida and the Taliban. "They're not sure whether this is their war or America's war," Sethi said.

And he cautions that the grumbling within the military could "be very dangerous."

We've taken Steve's reports and put them together in one audio clip:

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.