Slain journalist Arshad Sharif laid to rest at Islamabad’s H-11 graveyard

Published October 27, 2022
Journalist Arshad Sharif’s body at the H-11 graveyard moments before the burial. — DawnNewsTV
Journalist Arshad Sharif’s body at the H-11 graveyard moments before the burial. — DawnNewsTV
A large number of people were in attendance during slain journalist Arshad Sharif’s funeral prayers at Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
A large number of people were in attendance during slain journalist Arshad Sharif’s funeral prayers at Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
This photo shows police personnel deployed in the vicinity of Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad ahead of journalist Arshad Sharif’s funeral on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
This photo shows police personnel deployed in the vicinity of Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad ahead of journalist Arshad Sharif’s funeral on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

Slain journalist Arshad Sharif — who was shot dead amid mysterious circumstances in Kenya on Sunday last week — was laid to rest at the H-11 graveyard in Islamabad on Thursday with hundreds of people in attendance.

A large contingent of police was deployed at the graveyard where journalists and members of the civil society reached in huge numbers. During Sharif’s burial, slogans of “Allahu Akbar” were chanted.

Afterwards, personnel of the Pakistan Army paid tribute to the journalist and a garland from Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa was laid at his grave.

Earlier, Sharif’s funeral prayers were offered at Shah Faisal Mosque. A large number of journalists, politicians and civil society members including Azam Swati, Shibli Faraz, Murad Saeed, Faisal Karim Kundi, Kashif Abbasi, Waseem Badami and Sami Ibrahim attended the funeral prayers in the capital.

Dawn’s correspondent at the site estimated that nearly 20,000 people attended the funeral while thousands others gathered outside the Faisal Mosque.

Meanwhile, an AFP report, citing police personnel deployed at the scene, said the mosque drew up to 40,000 mourners, with people spilling into the gardens and surrounding streets.

Supporters of the PTI made up a large proportion of the crowd, waving flags and shouting “Arshad, your blood will bring revolution”, the report said.

“Arshad Sharif sacrificed his life to expose the faces of the corrupt and we should not let that sacrifice be for nothing,” Muhammad Iqbal, a 35-year-old shopkeeper and PTI supporter who had travelled from the neighbouring garrison city of Rawalpindi, said while speaking to AFP.

After prayers, coffin bearers struggled to push through the crowd to a waiting ambulance for onward passage to a graveyard.

Separately, funeral prayers in absentia were also held in Lahore.

According to a security order issued by Islamabad police, security around Shah Faisal Mosque was beefed up ahead of the funeral, with the deployment of 3,792 security personnel. These include six inspectors and 1,010 police constables.

The security arrangements will be overseen by three superintendents of police and five assistant superintendents of police/deputy superintendents of police, the order said.

Sindh police personnel, numbering 204, and 2,500 Frontier Corps personnel have also been deputed to assist Islamabad police, the order said.

The killing

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, the Kenyan media quoted the local police as saying Sharif was shot dead by police in a case of “mistaken identity”.

However, reports from the Kenyan media later reconstructed the events surrounding the killing, stating that an occupant in Sharif’s car at the time of his killing was believed to have shot at paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU) officers.

“They were stopped by GSU officers who, according to the police, were responding to reports that a stolen vehicle had been sighted in the area,” a report by Nation Media Group said.

The report noted contradictory versions of police that earlier claimed Sharif and his brother defied orders at a checkpoint but later alleged that Sharif’s brother “shot at” one officer and injured him. It quoted police as saying that the incident prompted police to shoot back.

Sharif’s body arrived in Pakistan yesterday (Wednesday). A post-mortem was later conducted at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad.

Probe into the killing

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced that a judicial commission would be formed to probe the journalist’s killing.

Moreover, the government has also constituted a team to probe the killing. Initially, a three-member body, 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) was formed. Later, the team’s size was cut from three to two with the exclusion of the ISI official.

The team will travel to Kenya immediately and Pakistan’s High Commission in Nairobi will facilitate the visit of the committee members, according to a notification issued by the Foreign Office.

The military has also requested the government to conduct a “high-level investigation” into the “accidental” killing.

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