The government on Wednesday excluded the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official from a team formed to investigate the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya, cutting the team’s size from three to two and leaving only Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) representatives on it.
Initially, the interior minister had on Tuesday formed a three-member team — comprising FIA director Athar Wahid, IB deputy director general Omar Shahid Hamid and Lt Col Saad Ahmed of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — to probe the murder.
However, the Ministry of Interior’s notification — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — issued today only mentioned the IB and FIA officials. It did not offer an explanation for the ISI official’s exclusion.
“The team will travel to Kenya immediately,” the notification said, adding the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan’s High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya will facilitate the visit of the committee members.
It said the committee will present its report to the interior division.
Later in the day, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) Hospital Director Dr Khalid Masud told Dawn.com that an eight-member team of senior doctors conducted Sharif’s postmortem.
The team comprised Masud, Professor SH Waqar, Professor Dr Mumtaz Khan Niazi, Professor Dr Farrukh Kamal, Dr Irshad Hussain, Dr Nasreen Butt, Dr Altaf Hussain and Dr Mohammad Umar Farooq.
He said that the journalist’s X-ray had been completed while the CT scan was underway as per the medical team’s recommendation.
Masud added that Sharif was likely to be later transferred to the Quaid-e-Azam International Hospital mortuary.
In a tweet, Sharif’s wife Javeria Siddique said she was present during the process and said the PIMS administration and police had cooperated with her.
She said Sharif’s funeral would be held on Thursday at 2pm in the Shah Faisal Mosque.
Wait for findings of commission instead of baseless allegations: PM Shehbaz
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif accused PTI chairman Imran Khan of “playing a dangerous game” on the matter of Sharif’s killing.
“He is using the tragic killing of Arshad Sharif for petty politics and going to the extent of casting aspersions on state institutions,” the premier tweeted, adding that Imran should wait for the findings of the judicial commission instead of resorting to “baseless allegations”.
A day ago, Imran had claimed that Arshad Sharif was a victim of targeted killing.
“He (Sharif) knew his life was in danger. He knew he was repeatedly getting warnings. He didn’t step back. I told him [to back down but] he wasn’t scared and then lastly, this targeted killing. No matter what people say, I know this was targeted killing.”
He had also said that Sharif received threats from “unknown numbers”.
Sharif’s mortal remains arrive in Pakistan
Earlier today, the body of the slain journalist arrived in Islamabad. “My Arshad is back, but in [a] coffin,” his wife Javeria Siddique said on Twitter. She also shared a video showing the coffin.
Senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry also tweeted about the chaotic situation at the Islamabad airport.
“Authorities looked afraid as if Arshad will come back to life again. The ambulance [carrying the coffin] was being moved frequently from one place to another to prevent gathering of people… the fear was visible,” he said.
Sharif was shot dead in Kenya allegedly by the local police on Sunday night, with an official police statement later expressing “regrets on the unfortunate incident” and saying an investigation was underway.
Initially, Kenyan media quoted the local police as saying Sharif was shot dead by police in a case of “mistaken identity”.
However, amid widespread condemnation and condolences, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced on Tuesday that a judicial commission would be formed to probe the journalist’s killing.
In a video message from Saudi Arabia, he had said that the commission would be responsible for determining the facts of the “tragic incident in a transparent and conclusive manner”.
The government has also constituted a three-member team, comprising Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director Athar Wahid, Intelligence Bureau (IB) deputy director general Omar Shahid Hamid and Lt Col Saad Ahmed of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to probe the incident.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Wednesday that the team would depart for Kenya immediately to ascertain the facts of the case and would submit a report to the ministry.
At the same time, the military has requested the government to conduct a “high-level investigation” into the “accidental” killing.
In an interview with 24 News on Tuesday, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Babar Iftikhar said: “It is very unfortunate that people indulge in allegations […] and I think a thorough investigation needs to be conducted to tackle these things. I believe that the probe should not just be into these things but also on why Arshad Sharif had to leave Pakistan.”
Gen Iftikhar stressed that it was important to find answers to questions regarding who forced Sharif to leave Pakistan, where did he live all this time, and what were the circumstances leading to this incident.
“At all these stages, unfortunately, at the end of the day, allegations are levelled and institutions are accused. So this speculation has to be put to rest and it has to come to an end,” he said.