By: The Express Tribune
Senior journalist Arshad Sharif died in Kenya’s Nairobi city after reportedly being shot, confirmed his wife Javeria Siddiqui early Monday.
Taking to her official Twitter handle, Siddiqui said “I lost friend, husband and my favourite journalist Arshad today, as per police he was shot in Kenya.”
Briefing the media on the development, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Pakistan’s ambassador to Kenya, Syeda Saqlain, Kenyan police officials and doctors are currently at the mortuary in Nairobi where the ambassador has identified Sharif’s body.
The minister also said that after identification, the process to repatriate the deceased has been initiated.
She also added that Kenyan authorities have been requested to complete the regulatory process as soon as possible.
In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing deep sorrow over the “untimely death” of Arshad Sharif in Kenya also confirmed that the body had been identified by Pakistan’s high commissioner in the country.
The statement read: “Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Kenya received initial information about the death of Arshad Sharif early in the morning of October 24.”
It maintained that the high commissioner accordingly contacted the police authorities and senior officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other departments. The 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 in Chiromo Funeral House in Nairobi,” it added.
The FO assured “all possible assistance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs” to Sharif’s family and stated that further procedures, including a police report, are awaited.
The 49-year-old had worked in various newsrooms in the country and was awarded the Pride of Performance by President Arif Alvi in March 2019.
It may also be noted that Sharif was associated with a private news channel in Karachi until recently when he resigned and moved to Dubai.
He leaves behind a wife and five children.
A case of ‘mistaken identity’
Kenyan media has reported that the journalist was shot dead Sunday night along the Nairobi-Magadi highway in a case of mistaken identity.
According to media reports, Sharif was shot in the head and killed by police after he and his driver allegedly breached a roadblock that had been set up to check on motor vehicles using the route.
They were driving from Magadi town to Nairobi when they were flagged down at a roadblock being manned by a group of police officers, police reportedly said.
A Kenyan senior police officer was quoted in the media saying, “we had an incident of shooting which turned out to be a case of mistaken identity involving a journalist. We will release more information later”.
However, others have raised various questions about police claims.
Investigative journalist Brian Obuya has alleged that Sharif’s body was found several kilometers away from where the police say the shooting occurred.
Further details on the matter are expected to come forward as the Independent Policing Oversight Authority will take over the case.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has urged the government to “pursue an immediate, transparent inquiry into the circumstances of his [Sharif’s] death.”
Condolences pour in
Politicians, including President Dr Arif Alvi, and colleagues have expressed deep sorrow over the journalist’s death.
The military’s media wing, the ISPR, has also issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened by the sudden death of senior journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya” and prayed for the departed soul.
The statement also made special mention of the grieving family and passed condolences to them.
Case against Sharif
Earlier this year, a spate of mysterious first information reports (FIRs) had emerged against journalists – Arshad Sharif, Sabir Shakir and Sami Ibrahim – over charges of sedition and peddling “anti-state” narrative.
The cases against the journalists were filed with police in several districts of Sindh and Balochistan with similar pattern and complaints.
The FIRs, filed by residents of the districts, had alleged that the journalists were stoking anti-national sentiments by maligning Pakistan Army and state institutions.
A case against then ARY News anchor Arshad Sharif was registered at a B-section police station in Hyderabad.