The news that senior Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif was shot and killed in Kenya, has sent shockwaves throughout Pakistan, and indeed among Pakistanis abroad.
Quoting police sources, the Kenyan media reported that his killing was the case of “mistaken identity”.
The Nairobi-based Star newspaper wrote that Arshad Sharif was “shot dead Sunday night [October 23] along the Nairobi-Magadi highway in a case of mistaken identity.”
The report further said, “Sharif was shot in the head and killed by police after he and his driver allegedly breached a roadblock that had been set up to check on motor vehicles using the route.”
Several questions have been raised.
Why was only Sharif shot, and not the driver, for instance, if the vehicle did not stop as flagged by the police?
Sharif’s brother Kurram Ahmed was also reportedly in the vehicle. This was later said to be untrue.
There are no reports that he was hit.
A Kenyan journalist, Brian Obuya tweeted the following message about the attack:
@ItsBrianObuya "Body of slain renowned Investigative journalist #ArshadSharif has been found at Kenya's Chiromo Mortuary, 78 Kilometres from where Police say shooting happened. Body appears to have two gunshot wounds. Pakistan Embassy officials on site."
It has now been revealed that nine bullets were fired at the vehicle on the passenger side where Arshad Sharif was sitting. Four additional bullets hit the right side (driver's side) and two in the rear.
Why were so many bullets fired on the passenger side? If the intention was to stop the car, its tires could have been hit, or in the worst case scenario, hit the driver.
Why shoot the passenger?
The Kenyan police version does not stand up to scrutiny especially in view of the fact that they are notorious for killing people if paid to do so. In other words, the Kenyan police are hired killers.
Were they hired by someone to carry out this targeted killing?
Who was Arshad Sharif?
The 49-year-old journalist had worked in various newsrooms in the country and was awarded the Pride of Performance by President Arif Alvi in March 2019.
Sharif was a well-known anchor with ARY News, an independent TV channel.
Under pressure from the army and the intelligence agencies because he had named the army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa as being responsible for Pakistan’s political turmoil, he was forced to resign.
That did not end his travails.
He started to receive death threats from blocked cell numbers which everyone in Pakistan knows come from operatives of the intelligence agencies.
Sharif was forced to flee the country and move to Dubai.
But Dubai being too close to Pakistan and the military’s influence with Emirati officials, he continued to receive death threats even there.
So, he was forced to leave Dubai under pressure from the Pakistan Army on Emirati officials.
Arshad Sharif ended up in Kenya.
In fact, his journalist colleagues in Pakistan have expressed surprise that others learnt of his whereabouts since his move to Kenya was a closely-guarded secret.
Pakistani officials have issued hypocritical statements of concern and condolences to his family: mother, wife and five children.
Even the military’s public relations office, ISPR, issued a statement of condolence.
The hypocrisy was not lost on those who know the current reality in Pakistan.
Since the ouster of Imran Khan as prime minister on April 9, 2022, Pakistan has been in political turmoil.
It has also caused grievous damage to the country’s already fragile economy.
Why Imran Khan was ousted from power and by whom?
He wanted to make Pakistan a truly independent country that would not take orders from the US.
The Americans have historically used Pakistan for their dirty work in the region, most particularly in Afghanistan.
This has caused immense damage to Pakistan at multiple levels.
It must be borne in mind that the US has always exercised influence in Pakistan through the military.
So, the Pakistan army chief Bajwa brought together disparate groups of opposition opportunists to engineer Imran Khan’s ouster in a no-confidence vote in parliament.
Scores of members of parliament were bought with bags full of money—amply documented and filmed—to vote against Imran Khan.
Journalists that have reported these dirty operations have been attacked.
These include senior journalist and analyst, Ayaz Amir, journalists Imran Riaz Khan, Shabir Shakir, Arshad Sharif (now deceased) and a host of others.
Even members of Imran Khan’s party, such as Dr Shehbaz Gill and Azam Swati, have been arrested and tortured.
Scores of false charges have been levelled against Imran Khan as well.
The late Arshad Sharif also had dozens of cases lodged against him.
So, if people in Pakistan point an accusing finger at the army or its agencies, there is some justification for it.
Will we ever know the truth about who murdered Arshad Sharif?
We still do not know who was behind the murder of Liaquat Ali Khan, General Zia ul-Haq and Benazir Bhutto so how can we hope for any truth about Arshad Sharif?
More importantly, will the real culprits ever be caught and punished for this heinous crime?