Journalist Arshad Sharif was on Sunday night shot dead in Kenya, his wife Javeria Siddique confirmed.
“I lost friend, husband and my favourite journalist [Arshad Sharif] today, as per police he was shot in Kenya,” she tweeted.
I lost friend, husband and my favourite journalist @arsched today, as per police he was shot in Kenya.
Respect our privacy and in the name of breaking pls don't share our family pics, personal details and his last pictures from hospital.
Remember us in ur prayers. pic.twitter.com/wP1BJxqP5e
— Javeria Siddique (@javerias) October 24, 2022
Confirming the journalist’s demise, the Foreign Office said Pakistan’s high commissioner to Kenya, along with other officials, reached Chiromo Funeral House in Nairobi where she identified Sharif’s body.
“Further procedures including police report are awaited,” the statement said.
The high commission would facilitate early return of Sharif’s body to Pakistan, the Foreign Office said, adding that the journalist’s family had been assured of all possible assistance.
Kenyan media quoted the local police as saying Sharif was shot dead by police in a case of “mistaken identity”. It said the incident took place on Sunday night along the Nairobi-Magadi highway.
A statement released by the National Police Service of Kenya later confirmed that the incident occurred last night along the Kwenia farm/Kamukuru Marram road within Magadi, where “a foreigner namely Arshad Mohammed Shariff, a Pakistani national aged 50 years was fatally wounded by a police officer while a passenger in a motor vehicle KDG 200M.
“At the time of the incident, deceased was in company of his brother namely Khurram Ahmed. Incident follows a circulation from Pangani Police of a stolen motor vehicle. The officers trailing the motor vehicle towards Magadi alerted police in Magadi who erected a road barrier,” it said.
PRESS STATEMENT pic.twitter.com/jDsqmQtzlb
— National Police Service-Kenya (@NPSOfficial_KE) October 24, 2022
The police service stated that the deceased’s motor vehicle came upon the police barrier that Sharif’s driver “drove through”. “It is then that they were shot at, fatally injuring late Arshad Mohammad Shariff.”
The Kenyan police further said that it regretted the incident, adding that the competent authorities were investigating the incident for appropriate action.
Talking to the media after visiting Sharif’s house, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the journalist was shot at a police checkpoint at an hour’s distance from Nairobi.
“He was travelling with a man named Kurram Ahmed […] the car was driven by a local. It is being said that they didn’t stop at the police check post,” she said. However, drifting off, the minister added that “we can’t say anything until and unless all these details are shared by the Kenyan government”.
Later in the day, addressing a press conference, the chairperson of Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority, Ann Makori, said that a “rapid response team” had been dispatched to investigate the killing of the journalist.
PM TALKS TO KENYAN PRESIDENT
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif talked to Kenyan President William Ruto over the phone and discussed Sharif’s murder. He stressed the need for an impartial and transparent investigation of the incident.
Just had a telephonic call with Kenyan President William Ruto about the tragic death of Arshad Sharif in 🇰🇪. I requested him to ensure fair & transparent investigation into shocking incident. He promised all-out help including fast-tracking the process of return of the body to 🇵🇰
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) October 24, 2022
The premier requested Ruto to complete the procedure for the early return of the slain journalist’s body.
The Kenyan president expressed regret over the incident and promised “all-out help” to Pakistan. He has also vowed to present an investigation report on the incident soon.
Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan said he was shocked at Sharif’s death.
He said the journalist had “paid the ultimate price for speaking the truth – his life. He had to leave the country & be in hiding abroad but he continued to speak the truth on social media, exposing the powerful. Today the entire nation mourns his death.”
A proper judicial investigation must be instituted to examine his own statements plus evidence that other sources have. We have descended into a state of brutality, unknown in civilised society, indulged in by the powerful against those who dare to criticise & expose wrongdoings
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 24, 2022
He called for an investigation into Sharif’s death using the journalist’s own statements as well as other evidence. “We have descended into a state of brutality, unknown in civilised society, indulged in by the powerful against those who dare to criticise & expose wrongdoing,” he added.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that there was a “long, grim record of violent tactics to silence journalists” which is why Sharif’s death sent shockwaves throughout the journalist community.
A long, grim record of violent tactics to silence journalists explain why the reported murder of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya has sent shock waves through the journalist community. The govt must pursue an immediate, transparent inquiry into the circumstances of his death.
— Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (@HRCP87) October 24, 2022
It also urged the government to pursue an immediate, transparent inquiry into the circumstances of his death.
The military’s public affairs wing also issued a condolence message on what it said was the “unexpected death” of the senior journalist.
“May Allah raise the ranks of Arshad Sharif,” the Inter-Services Public Relations statement said.
Condolences from Sharif’s colleagues, political leaders and the general public also continue to pour in over social media.
CASES AGAINST SHARIF
Earlier this year, police had booked Sharif, ARY Digital Network President and CEO Salman Iqbal, Head of News and Current Affairs Ammad Yousaf, anchorperson Khawar Ghumman and a producer for sedition over a controversial interview by PTI leader Dr Shahbaz Gill broadcast on the channel on Aug 8.
A day later, the Interior Ministry had cancelled the channel’s no-objection certificate citing “adverse reports from agencies” as the reason behind the decision — a decision that was later reversed after an order of the Sindh High Court.
The FIRs, which were registered in Hyderabad and Karachi, included Sections 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempting to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The FIRs referred to Sharif’s comments in a conversation with journalist Matiullah Jan on his YouTube channel wherein he allegedly “disrespected” state institutions and uttered statements that attempted to “spread hate in the army and create a hateful atmosphere”.
Another FIR in Dadu, under PPC Sections 131, 153 and 505, mentioned Sharif and ARY News journalist Sabir Shakir. The FIR said that “derogatory language” regarding state institutions was used in a conversation between the two and analogies were drawn to Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq. It added that the two were inciting people against the army and state institutions.
Subsequently, Sharif had left the country.
The ARY Network had later announced it had “parted ways” with Sharif without citing a specific reason but stating that it expects its employees’ conduct on social media to be in line with the company policy.
The company, however, did not mention the social media post for which Sharif was let go.
Sharif is a part of an upcoming investigative documentary titled ‘Behind Closed Doors’ that highlights corruption of some elite Pakistani political figures and their families. It also looks into offshore leaks that revealed that politicians use the British financial system and offshore jurisdictions to launder, hide and re-invest their wealth into the global financial system.
Sharif was awarded the Pride of Performance by President Alvi in March 2019.