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‘Mistake of identity’ leads to journalist’s death in Kenya!

Police say they shot and killed a senior Pakistani journalist who was hiding out in Kenya after his car drove through a checkpoint near Nairobi instead of halting. When looking for an automobile that matched the description of one involved in a child abduction case, police believed it was a case of ‘mistaken identification’.

Arshad Sharif, 50, moved from Pakistan to Kenya in July to escape being arrested for criticising the country’s strong military. Following the car he and his brother, Khurram Ahmed, were riding in driving through a checkpoint on the Nairobi-Magadi highway on Sunday night, Nairobi police said Sharif was shot in the head and murdered. Police had ordered the two to stop, but they accelerated instead. The police said that ‘they made no stops and continued on their route.’.While pursuing the car, which crashed, police started shooting. Javeria Siddique, Sharif’s wife, confirmed her husband’s death in Kenya. The state of Ahmed remained unknown at the time.

In response to a citizen’s complaint accusing him of defaming the nation’s national institutions—the military—Sharif fled Pakistan to avoid arrest. Most of his acquaintances just knew that he had visited Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and London; they were unaware of his current location. Nairobi Police announced that it will transfer the matter for additional investigation to the independent policing oversight authority. ‘ We had a gunshot that ended up being a mistaken identification situation involving a journalist’. A top Kenyan police official previously stated, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, ‘We will give further details later’.

Police said that following a carjacking in the Pangani neighbourhood of the Kenyan capital during which a kid was held hostage, a roadblock was set up to locate and intercept a vehicle resembling Sharif’s vehicle. Arif Alvi, the president of Pakistan, Shahbaz Sharif, the prime minister, who is not related to the journalist, the military, and other top leaders in Pakistan sent their condolences. Arshad Sharif was sacked by the private ARY Television a month after he left Pakistan for violating the TV station’s rules by frequently criticising the military on social media. His Monday and Thursday chat programme Powerplay was cancelled.

After Imran Khan, his predecessor, was ousted in a vote of no-confidence in parliament in April, the station continued to be critical of Pakistan’s prime minister earlier in the year. Khan alleges that he was ousted as part of a US plan, an allegation that is refuted by both the US and the Pakistani governments. On Monday, key members of Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party, including Fawad Chaudhry, denounced the assassination of Sharif and urged a thorough inquiry.

A court in Islamabad ordered Pakistan’s intelligence service and police to cease harassing Sharif in August after the journalist, through his lawyer, filed a plea with the court alleging that security agents were violating his fundamental rights. At the time, the police and the government acknowledged that Sharif was wanted in connection with a complaint, but they said that nothing had been done to place Sharif under arrest.

For a very long time, Pakistan was a dangerous place for journalists. On the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual global impunity index, which ranks nations where journalists are frequently killed and the attackers walk free, it was rated ninth in 2020.


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