PPF mourns loss of senior journalist Arshad Sharif; calls for investigation into reasons for his exile from Pakistan
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) mourns the loss of senior journalist Arshad Sharif who was shot dead while traveling in a car in Kenya on October 24. We join calls for an investigation into his death and for a thorough investigation into the causes behind Sharif’s initial decision to leave Pakistan in August.
There were initially varying reports on the cause of his death with some reports claiming it was an accident and Kenyan media claiming it was a case of “mistaken identity”. As per the Kenyan police, Sharif was “fatally wounded by a police officer while a passenger in a motor vehicle KDG200M.”
Since then varying versions of events have been provided by the government and opposition leadership. We urge all political parties to refrain from politicization of Sharif’s death and to ensure an impartial investigation is carried out.
On October 25, the Ministry of Interior formed a team to investigate Sharif’s murder consisting of officials from the Federal Investigative Agency and the Intelligence Bureau. According to Geo, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said the investigative team will “examine the complete reasons and motives behind Sharif’s departure from Pakistan to Dubai and from Dubai to Kenya”. The former host of the show ‘Power Play’ on ARY News had left Pakistan in August after sedition cases were registered against him and other journalists. This environment of fear and the eventual decision of media persons to leave the country requires investigation and Sharif’s case is an example of this.
PPF urges the authorities to ensure a transparent and effective investigation into Sharif’s decision to go into exile from Pakistan. It is unacceptable that journalists feel unsafe, threatened or unable to continue their work in Pakistan and are either forced into or opt to go into exile.
Sharif is amongst many journalists who have either been forced to or have opted to leave Pakistan due to fear of doing their work in the country. This presents a grim picture of the state of free expression within Pakistan. The role of the state in creating this environment of fear must also be thoroughly investigated and ascertained in order to ensure that journalists working in Pakistan are able to continue their work without the fear of coming under threat.
With the formation of the investigative team into Sharif’s death and departure from Pakistan, PPF also reminds the state to share findings of the investigations on other attacks on journalists. In other instances of the abduction of journalists, no investigations took place or the results of the investigations were not made public.
Sharif’s unfortunate death brought an end to an illustrious journalism career. Sharif was a well known journalist who has worked in many of the major networks in Pakistan. In 2019, he was awarded the Presidential Pride of Performance Award.
Before leaving Pakistan in August after sedition cases were registered against him and other journalists, Sharif was the host of the show Power Play on ARY News. The channel had then announced that it had parted ways with Sharif as he had not followed the company’s code of conduct regarding social media.
Sharif, 50, had joined ARY News in 2014 prior to which he was the host of the show Kyun on Dunya News. Before this, he was the Islamabad bureau chief for Dawn News TV and had also worked at The News, Dawn and Aaj News.
At Dunya News and Aaj News, Sharif was an anchorperson and news director. As per Bol News, he had joined the network prior to his untimely death and his programme was scheduled to be aired soon.