Arshad Sharif, a prominent Pakistani journalist critical of the country’s military, was killed today in Kenya nearly two months after he fled Pakistan due to threats of arrest and on his life.
Kenyan authorities claimed that this is a case of mistaken identity as police were forced to shoot Sharif’s car when it sped up at a roadblock on the Magadi highway around 100 kilometers away from Nairobi.
Sharif was an investigative journalist who was critical of Pakistan’s powerful military when former Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed from office.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted, “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 and 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 local Kenyan crime reporter Cyrus Ombati said Sharif was investigating corruption in Kenya, Pakistan and London and he is unsure whether the death was linked to this investigation. At best, he said the authorities who killed Sharif will be reprimanded for misuse of firearms and not for killing Sharif.
Another Kenyan journalist Eliud Kibii asked why the police fired shots while only suspecting the car for a robbery as it was alleged, especially if they believed a child was being held hostage inside of it.
Kibii writes, “why was he in Nairobi? Why had he gone go Magadi town?… Why did police shoot at occupant?”
Pakistan’s current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted, “I am deeply saddened by the shocking news of journalist Arshad Sharif’s tragic death. May Allah SWT grant him a place in heaven.”
His message was met with criticism and a flurry of questions by Pakistanis. Gulalai Ismail inquired, “why is there no action point in this tweet. Can you please elaborate what kind of investigation the government will launch and what actions the government will take to provide to journalists who fear for their lives?”
Rehman Bazai chided the Prime Minister, saying he is a person of authority and not a commoner. “You are not supposed to present condolences but provide justice.”
The death of the journalist has been met with overwhelming grief by Pakistanis.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement, “A long, grim record of violent tactics to silence journalists explains why the reported murder of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya has sent shock waves through the journalist community. The government must pursue an immediate, transparent inquiry into the circumstances of his death.”
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