ISLAMABAD: The investigation into the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya moved ahead on Sunday with the recording of statements of two witnesses to the killing in Nairobi.

According to private TV channels, the inquiry committee met Khurram Ahmed, who was driving the vehicle carrying the slain journalist and his brother Waqar Ahmed in the Kenyan capital.

The committee, which comprises an official each from the Intelligence Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), is currently in Kenya to investigate the murder.

Editorial: Too many questions are swirling around the tragic killing of Arshad Sharif

The channels reported that Arshad Sharif was staying at a place, owned by the two brothers. But there was no confirmation from either the IB or the FIA that the committee had questioned them.

Television reports said Khurram and Waqar Ahmed, who hosted Arshad Sharif in Kenya, described the shooting as one of “mistaken identity”. Waqar reportedly told the probe team that he had hosted Arshad Sharif at his friend’s request. But he did not identify the person at whose request the brothers provided lodging facility to the journalist.

Television channels quoted Waqar as saying: “I met Arshad Sharif only once during a meal at his lodge outside Nairobi.” The ARY News quoted him as saying: “On the day of the incident (Oct 23), Arshad had a meal with us at our lodge. After the meal, Arshad left with my brother Khurram in a car and 30 minutes later there was a report of firing on the vehicle.”

Waqar reportedly told the investigation team that his brother Khurram Ahmed “miraculously survived” the shooting and “we handed over Arshad’s iPad and mobile phone to Kenyan authorities”.

According to the channel, the two brothers told the Pakistani investigating officers the slain journalist was planning to move to Nairobi and that he had extended his visa for the purpose.

According to the Kenyan police, Arshad Sharif was killed in Nairobi on Oct 23 when police, “hunting car thieves”, opened fire on the car he was travelling in when it ignored warnings to stop and drove on through a roadblock.

A police statement said the shooting was being treated as a case of ‘mistaken identity’. The killing sparked outrage in Pakistan and calls for an investigation. The government heeded to the calls, setting up a two-member inquiry team and dispatching it to Nairobi.

PFUJ dedicates day

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has decided to dedicate the “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” to Arshad Sharif.

The UN-designated day is observed every year to remember the two French journalists who were killed in Mali in 2013. The UN resolution deçlaring Nov 2 as International Day called upon the member states to implement measures to counter the “culture of impunity for crimes against journalists”.

In Pakistan this issue has gained importance since 2006 as over 80 journalists were killed in the line of duty since that year.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2022

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