Killing of Pakistani journalist Sharif in Kenya ‘planned’: Report

The report, published by a group of Pakistani investigators on Wednesday, stated that the murder of a Pakistani journalist conducting an investigation in Kenya was a premeditated act of assassination.

In the end of October, Arshad Sharif, who voiced disapproval of Pakistan’s influential military, was fatally shot by the police while driving on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Subsequently, the Nairobi police conveyed their remorse for the occurrence, explaining that it was a case of “misidentification” as they were searching for a comparable vehicle linked to a child abduction case.

The killing of Sharif resulted in condemnations and demands for an impartial investigation.

The widow of Sharif, Javeria Siddique, along with other family members, demanded that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also announced an investigation and promised to share the government’s findings with the public, as well as Pakistani journalists and the military.

The 49-year-old journalist, in order to avoid arrest in the wake of multiple cases including sedition charges, fled the country in August and is now living in exile, after his comments making offensive remarks against the military were deemed seditious.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad police have charged two Pakistani businessmen living in Kenya with their involvement in the killing of Sharif, a country African host.

‘Targeted assassination’

Ahmed Waqar and Khurram, who are brothers, traveled to Kenya where they met with Pakistani officials. As part of the investigation, both the Kenyan police and Sharif’s statements were found to be contradictory, according to a 592-page report seen by the AP investigators.

Khurram was informed by investigators that, according to the report, he had been in the car with Sharif at the time of the shooting. They saw a roadblock while they were traveling home after dinner. Khurram believed that the robbers had set it up, so they sped through. He said he heard fatal gunshots.

According to Khurram, it was mentioned that the brothers discovered that Sharif had already passed away when they arrived at the house. He continued driving until they arrived at the family’s farmhouse, which was several kilometers away, and then his brother, who Khurram said advised him, made a phone call.

People attend the funeral prayer of slain senior Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif, in Islamabad
People attend the funeral prayer of slain senior Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif, in Islamabad, Pakistan [File: Anjum Naveed/AP Photo]

Malcolm Webb, a journalist from Al Jazeera, reported that the brothers in Kajiado, Kenya, did not speak to the press since the incident of the killing at the site.

However, according to Webb, their attorney has stated that they “were not implicated and are also concerned for their safety”.

The report shed no light on whether Khurram’s account of suspicion was found. The Kenyan police said that the instruments used in the killing were apparently only mentioned. They did not provide any evidence to support the accusation or offer any further elaboration, possibly with other forms of compensation or financial assistance.

The report provided no proof for its assertions and there was no immediate response from Kenya.

The document stated that the Kenyan authorities asserted “This was a premeditated, focused murder … Instead of a situation of incorrect identification.” It mentioned that people in Kenya, Dubai, or Pakistan potentially played a part in the killing, avoiding explicitly accusing any particular individual.

After departing from Pakistan in August, Sharif had resided in the United Arab Emirates before continuing his journey to Kenya.

The further report suggested that Sharif was fatally wounded by the bullet fired from close range inside the car, but it did not elaborate on it again.