NAIROBI/ISLAMABAD: Senior journalist and anchor Arshad Sharif was shot dead by the police in Kenya, investigators said Monday, prompting calls for a full probe into the murder.
Kenyan national police spokesman Bruno Shioso said the journalist was fatally wounded by an officer after his car drove through a police barrier in the Magadi area, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the capital Nairobi. “It is then that they were shot at, fatally injuring Arshad Mohammed Sharif,” he said in a statement, adding that the journalist was travelling with a man described as his “brother” Khurram Ahmed.
“National Police Service regrets this unfortunate incident,” he said. According to a police report seen by AFP, the car carrying the two men was struck by around nine bullets, but continued on to the home of another Pakistani national.
There, Sharif was found to be dead “with a gunshot wound on the head which had penetrated from the back”. The report said police at the time had been on the lookout for a stolen car and an abducted person and had set up a makeshift roadblock.
“I lost friend, husband and my favourite journalist today, as per police he was shot in Kenya,” Sharif´s wife Javeria Siddique tweeted. Media rights group Reporters Without Borders (known by its French acronym RSF) said Sharif had been shot dead with two bullets in “unclear circumstances” and urged an international investigation into “this gruesome and utterly disturbing murder”.
The RSF´s call was echoed by the Kenya Editors´ Guild which said those responsible should be brought to book. “This would not only demonstrate Kenya´s and the government´s ability to protect its citizens and visitors but also assure Kenyans and the international community that Kenya is safe for everyone, including journalists whose rights it should protect.”
Earlier this month, Ruto had vowed to overhaul Kenya´s security forces and disbanded a police unit accused of extrajudicial killings. According to Missing Voices, a campaign group focused on extrajudicial killings in Kenya, there have been 1,264 deaths at the hands of police since it began collecting data in 2017.
Meanwhile, the killing was Monday widely condoled at home and abroad with calls for a fair investigation into the unfortunate incident. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Monday telephoned Kenyan President William Ruto demanding fair and transparent investigations into the murder of senior journalist and anchor Arshad Sharif.
The premier phoned the Kenyan president soon after Pakistan’s High Commission in Kenya confirmed Arshad Sharif’s murder. The foreign ministry announced assisting the family in every possible way.
Arshad Sharif, according to the Kenyan authorities, was travelling from Magadi town to Nairobi when the tragedy took place. According to the Kenyan authorities, the murder was a case of mistaken identity and a police inquiry was underway.
“Just had a telephonic call with Kenyan President William Ruto about the tragic death of Arshad Sharif. I requested him to ensure fair and transparent investigations into this shocking incident. He promised all-out help, including fast-tracking the process of return of the body to Pakistan,“ tweeted the prime minister.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry in a statement said it was deeply saddened at the untimely death of prominent journalist and anchorperson Arshad Sharif in Kenya. “We convey our sincere condolences to the bereaved family”, it said.
According to the Foreign Office, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Kenya received initial information about the death of Arshad Sharif early in the morning of 24 October. The high commissioner accordingly contacted the police authorities and senior officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other departments. Office of the vice president was also contacted for confirmation.
Pakistanis of Kenyan origin were also mobilised. The mission was informed that the body was at the Chiromo Funeral House in Nairobi. The high commissioner along with mission’s officers reached the location, and identified the body of Mr. Sharif.
Sharif’s family has been assured of all possible assistance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Further procedures, including police report, are awaited. The high commission will facilitate expeditious repatriation of mortal remains of Mr. Sharif in coordination with the host authorities,” said the Foreign Office.
“Acting Foreign Secretary Raza Bashir Tarar has visited the family of Mr. Sharif and conveyed confirmation of the sad news, and heartfelt condolences on behalf of the foreign minister and the minister of state”, added the statement.
Tarar also met the Kenyan High Commissioner in Islamabad to impress upon the importance of the matter and urgent repatriation of the mortal remains. He also briefed the members of the National Assembly Foreign Relations Committee on the developments.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a tweet wrote, “Strongly condemn the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya. Deepest condolences to his family and loved ones who are in my thoughts and prayers, while they grapple with this sudden loss.”
Minister of State Ms Hina Rabbani Khar also tweeted her condolences. “Deepest condolences for Arshad Sharif’ untimely death. May Allah bless his soul and give courage to the family to bear the loss. MOFA will do all it can for repatriation of the deceased to his motherland and to assist the family in every possible way”.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Monday passed a resolution that strongly condemned the brutal killing of senior journalist and anchorperson Arshad Sharif in Kenya and demanded transparent investigations into the heinous act.
“This House strongly condemns the brutal killing of senior journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya and demands fair and transparent investigations to ascertain facts behind the act,” said the resolution read out by Federal Minister Shazia Marri.
The House also expressed deepest condolences with Arshad Sharif’s family. The resolution was passed after the journalists covering the National Assembly walked out of the House to protest Arshad Sharif’s murder.
Speaking on a point of order, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto said the Pakistan embassy was also closely pursuing the matter while ambassador of Kenya would also be called by the Foreign Office to convey Pakistan’s concern.
He said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had also made a phone call to President of Kenya and requested for an early completion of inquiry into the incident. Other parliamentarians, including Federal Minister Sherry Rehman, Agha Rafiullah and Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, also condemned the murder.
Bilawal also welcomed two newly elected MNAs of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) into the House saying the victory of Abdul Hakeem Baloch in Karachi and Ali Musa Gilani in Multan against the PTI had exposed a person’s so-called popularity.
PMLN Quaid Muhammad Nawaz Sharif expressed grief over the tragic death of Arshad Sharif. Talking to the media persons in London, Nawaz said he was deeply grieved at the death of senior anchorperson.
Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb visited the residence of Arshad Sharif to condoled the tragic death with his mother. She sympathized with the widow, children and other family members.
She said the government was taking all possible measures to promptly repatriate the body of the deceased journalist. She urged the media not to speculate over the tragic death, adding that specific details of tragic incident would be shared with media immediately after receiving from Kenyan authorities.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan called for a proper judicial investigation into the death. In a series of messages on his Twitter account to record his reaction to the ‘killing’ of Sharif, he wrote, “We saw a foreign abetted regime change conspiracy taking place sending Pak into chaos. But senior Judiciary continues to remain aloof. When will the Judiciary move to act against State institutions that are defying all laws & violating the Constitution? It is high time they did”.
He noted Arshad Sharif’s murder has sent shockwaves across Pakistan. It has highlighted an ongoing targeting of anyone who dares to criticise or question those holding power.
He questioned, “When will our senior judiciary act to ensure our citizens fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution are protected & safeguarded against excesses by the state & government. We have seen citizens, politicians, journalists & human rights defenders intimidated, arrested, charged with terrorism & incitement to mutiny, tortured. We see fake cases, misuse of power by different executive branches expanding”.
“Shocked at the brutal murder of Arshad Sharif who 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,” he wrote.
A proper judicial investigation, he proposed, 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. My prayers and condolences go to his grief stricken family,” he said.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said there were no words to express the deep shock and sorrow at the news of the murder of the ‘unparalleled journalist and friend Arshad Sharif’.
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar expressed grief and said he was shocked to hear the news of Arshad Sharif’s death. May Allah grant him high place in paradise. The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) expressed its condolences on the sudden death of Arshad Sharif.
In a statement, it said, “May Allah exalt the ranks of Arshad Sharif in the Hereafter and grant patience to his family in this hour of sorrow.” The Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBAP) condemned killing of senior anchorperson.
A statement said SCBA President Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon, Secretary Waseem Mumtaz Malik and the 24th Executive Committee were extremely perturbed over the death of Arshad Sharif. Condemning the said incident in strongest possible words, they termed the incident “inhumane hooliganism”.