Sunday July 14, 2024

Kenya shooting

By Editorial Board
October 26, 2022

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that Pakistan will set up a judicial commission headed by a high court judge to investigate senior journalist and anchorperson Arshad Sharif’s murder. This is a welcome intervention in what is no doubt a terrible tragedy. The prime minister is not the only one who has talked about an investigation. Apart from demands by the PTI and journalists’ organizations for a probe into Arshad Sharif’s murder in Kenya, the ISPR too has commented on the incident, with the DG of the ISPR saying that they have written to the government requesting an inquiry commission for a thorough investigation into the death as well as the circumstances that led the deceased journalist to leave Pakistan. In a statement to a private channel, the DG ISPR also said that people were indulging in allegations without any evidence and that a detailed investigation should be carried out so these speculations can finally be put to rest – while also saying that the government had been requested “to take legal action against all those who are levelling allegations without any evidence”.

Adding a further twist are the serious allegations made by PTI Chairman Imran Khan who has said that he had told Arshad Sharif to leave the country as the slain journalist had threats to his life. Imran has also claimed that Sharif’s death was a ‘target killing’. These allegations by a former prime minister must be thoroughly probed. Perhaps the judicial commission that is being set up by the government could look into the information Imran says he had. This is vital information and should be shared at the top level so that it helps the commission’s investigation.

Even more important is for the government to pursue the matter with the Kenyan authorities to make sure that the probe into the local police’s highhandedness leads to some answers and those responsible for this tragedy are brought to task. Arshad Sharif was shot dead on Sunday outside of Nairobi by the local police, apparently in a case of ‘mistaken identity’ during a search for a stolen vehicle involved in a child abduction case. The Kenyan police have expressed their regret. But their version of the shooting has left many unanswered questions, all of which need to be addressed so that any speculations can also be dealt with either way. For example, why would the police open fire when they suspected that a child was in the car? Why would they open fire when those in the car did not shoot at them? And why would they not try to immobilize the car rather than shooting at the passenger in the car? These are serious questions that must be answered by the Kenyan authorities. This is also hardly the first time the Kenyan police has been accused of being trigger-happy, with police officers having had a history of using excess force and not being held accountable for that. We hope that the government will make sure that police officers responsible for Arshad Sharif’s death are probed and face justice. The state must own its people and make them feel secure, whether in the country or outside. It is also important to ensure that unnecessary speculation does not harm a grieving family nor place blame without evidence. At the moment, some sense of closure would help the family of Arshad Sharif which needs to know in what circumstances he met those last tragic moments in his life.