Journalist Arshad Sharif’s death on Sunday night in Kenya in a reported shooting incident shocked rights organisations, media fraternity and civil society members back home, prompting calls for thorough investigation and disclosure of facts.
Earlier today, Kenyan media quoted local police as saying that 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.
However, the statement from the Kenyan media was received with skepticism in Pakistan, with journalists demanding the government to hold a “transparent inquiry” and bring facts to light.
Fellow journalist and Sharif’s former colleague, Kashif Abbasi, expressed his disbelief, calling it “beyond heartbreaking”.
“My brother, my friend, my colleague Arshad Shareef was shot dead in Kenya … I still can’t believe it. It’s beyond heartbreaking. This is just wrong … this is painful … I love u brother,” ARY News anchorperson Kashif Abbasi tweeted.
ARY Digital Network President and CEO Salman Iqbal said he could not believe the development. “I am speechless,” he added.
“Unbelievable. May Allah rest the soul of Arshad Sharif in peace. Ameen,” senior journalist Hamid Mir tweeted.
Veteran journalist Kamran Khan also expressed his shock at Sharif’s killing, urging the authorities to act immediately “to get us facts”.
“Kenyan officials and the GOP [Government of Pakistan] must act fast to get us facts on this devastating news about one of Pakistan’s most prominent journalists,” he tweeted.
In another tweet, he shared a statement from the Kenyan police allegedly admitting its role in the “accidental killing” of Sharif.
Geo News anchorperson Shahzeb Khanzada said he was extremely sad to hear the devastating news.
“Arshad Sharif, not just a colleague, a brother, is no more. From Islamabad to Moscow, from Dunya News to ARY, I’ve not known a finer gentleman. Shot dead. Too young. Too brutally,” Hum News anchorperson Meher Bokhari tweeted.
Journalist Sami Ibrahim described Sharif’s killing as an “assassination”, saying he was a courageous journalist.
“No words to express grief and sorrow,” Ibrahim tweeted.
Another journalist Arif Hameed Bhatti said he was unable to believe that Sharif had been “martyred”.
Senior journalist Shaheen Sehbai, in a tweet, insisted that Sharif’s death must not be reported as an “accident”, saying police confirmed that he was shot in the head.
Journalist Ghulam Abbas Shah quoted a Kenyan journalist in his tweet as saying that the body of the slain journalist had been found at Kenya’s Chiromo Mortuary, 78 Kilometres from where police claimed shooting happened. “Body appears to have two gunshot wounds.”
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said “a long and grim record of violent tactics to silence journalists” was why Sharif’s reported murder “sent shock waves through the journalist community”.
“The government must pursue an immediate, transparent inquiry into the circumstances of his death,” the HRCP demanded.
Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir said another “critic of establishment has died in mysterious circumstances on foreign soil.”
In another tweet, Nasir questioned if it was an “unfortunate coincidence”, underlining that “enquiries will be conducted but fear is based on beliefs and not government-approved facts. The fear will spread”.