ISLAMABAD: Interior Minis­ter Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday said that journalist Arshad Sharif was killed in a targeted attack, rejecting the claim of Kenyan police that his killing was a case of “mistaken identity”.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Sanaullah said: “Prima facie, it is a targeted murder as the narrative of ‘mistaken identity’ has not been proven […] and there are several doubts.”

He said shots were fired at Mr Sharif’s car in a “very technical manner”. Apparently, he added, the shooters knew well on which side and seat Arshad was sitting in the vehicle.

Mr Sanaullah said the driver also knew where the vehicle would be attacked and how to save his own life. He said details about activities of Waqar and Khurram would also be obtained as the murder had apparently happened with their connivance.

RSF seeks UN probe

Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called for a UN investigation into journalist Arshad Sharif’s murder. “If the Kenyan authorities want to shed light on Mr Sharif’s murder, they must ensure that the investigation is not cloaked in imprecision, and that it is independent and impartial,” it said in statement.

“The information currently emerging from the Kenyan wing of the investigation is contradictory, and all independent attempts to get information are met with a wall of silence,” said Sadibou Marong, the director of RSF’s sub-Saharan Africa bureau.

“Why was Arshad Sharif in Kenya and, above all, why did he have to flee his country — these are the questions behind his murder,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

“The potential conflicts of interest are such on both the Kenyan and Pakistani sides that we are calling on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Morris Tidball-Binz, to launch an investigation with an independent international team to shed all possible light on this shocking case.”

Arshad Sharif was killed by two shots fired at close range. This is one of the few hard facts to have emerged in the two weeks since his murder in a Nairobi suburb on the night of October 23. The information comes from a Kenyan autopsy report published on November 4. It says that one of the bullets entered his back and exited via his chest and that the other bullet lodged in his head.

These details have increased the scepticism about the information so far provided by the Kenyan police about the circumstances of the murder. An initial report seen by RSF said police fired on the car in which Mr Sharif was travelling because they mistook it for a stolen car and because it did not stop at a checkpoint. But the car in which Mr Sharif was travelling bore no similarity to the stolen car, so it is highly unlikely that the police could have confused them.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2022

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