KARACHI: On Sunday morning, Pakistanis woke up to the shocking news that prominent journalist Arshad Sharif was shot dead in Kenya. The 49-year-old outspoken journalist was known for being against the Shareef regime as well as being anti-military and had fled to Kenya after charges were filed against him.
Arshad Sharif had fled the country in August to avoid arrest. The charges, which included sedition, had been levied against him after the disastrous ARY interview with Shahbaz Gill, a close aide of
Imran Khan, who was accused of making offensive comments about the military. Sharif had claimed that the state and its institutions were harassing and threatening him and he first moved to Dubai but later relocated to Kenya. Sharif was also a part of the documentary
Behind Closed Doors which aimed to uncover the corruption by the current regime in Pakistan over the years.
We are very saddened by the unexpected death of fearless journalist #ArshadSharif. He was part of our upcoming doc “Behind Closed Doors”. Deepest condolences to his family and to the entire journalism fraternity.
— Behind Closed Doors Documentary (@Independent_POV) October 24, 2022
As per Kenyan authorities, Sharif’s death was a case of mistaken identity when the car he was travelling in was fired upon by police after it failed to stop at a checkpoint. The reports also claimed that the car he was traveling in was similar to one that was being tracked in a kidnapping case.
The news of his death was confirmed by his wife Javeria who tweeted, “I lost friend, husband and my favourite journalist today, as per police he was shot in Kenya.”
I lost friend, husband and my favourite journalist @arsched today, as per police he was shot in Kenya.
Respect our privacy and in the name of breaking pls don’t share our family pics, personal details and his last pictures from hospital.
Remember us in ur prayers. pic.twitter.com/wP1BJxqP5e
— Javeria Siddique (@javerias) October 24, 2022
Many close friends and supporters of Arshad Sharif took to social media to express their shock and grief over the murder, including former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Arshad Sharif’s murder has sent shockwaves across Pak. It has highlighted an ongoing targeting of anyone who dares to criticise or question those holding power.When will our senior Judiciary act to ensure our citizens fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution are protected
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 24, 2022
I was watching ARY. For a minute I thought the anchor said, we have senior journalist Arshad Sharif on line 💔💔
— Ihtisham Ul Haq (@iihtishamm) October 25, 2022
Assassination of Arshad Sharif was carried out to set an example for those who choose to speak out against the immensely powerful criminal cartels of Pakistan.
— Adil Raja (@soldierspeaks) October 25, 2022
Meddling & influence of external powers in Pakistan through clandestine means growing. Mysterious killings like that of Arshad Sharif doings of nexus between political mafia & hostile agencies. Existential threat to state. We are doomed if it goes unchecked. #ArshadSharif
— Muhammad Haroon Aslam HI(M) SBt (Lt Gen- Retd) (@AVeteran1956) October 26, 2022
However, it seems not everyone was as aggrieved as others. Maryam Nawaz drew in criticism for what people deemed to be a tone deaf tweet about Arshad Sharif and his death. In a now deleted tweet, she wrote that the journalist’s death is a “lesson for the mankind.”
When Kulsoom Nawaz (L) was ill Arshad sharif prayed for her and when this disgusting lady Maryam Nawaz was ill arshad sharif prayed for her quick recovery and look what Arshad sharif got in return. This pathetic woman is not worth calling a human being.. pic.twitter.com/zyoQliK6tI
— Saith Abdullah (@SaithAbdullah99) October 25, 2022
However, she eventually deleted the tweet and clarified her stance later.
My tweet was NOT aimed at mocking someone but about learning our lessons from the past. I am undoing the tweet & apologise for the hurt it may have caused to the aggrieved which never was my intention. May no one ever have to go through this pain. Prayers for the bereaved family.
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) October 25, 2022
While Pakistan mourns the loss of a brave journalist who did not shy away from speaking the truth, a major question remains: Who killed Arshad Sharif?