ISLAMABAD: Prominent Pakistani presenter Arshad Sharif has been shot dead in Kenya, his wife said on Monday, as Kenyan media reported the journalist was killed by police in a “mistaken identity” case.
Sharif’s ‘Power Play’ talk show aired for years from Monday to Thursday on the ARY news channel, which criticized Pakistan’s new prime minister Shahbaz Sharif and the military.
He was himself seen as a harsh critic of the current ruling coalition and the military and fled the country in August after remarks by a politician in a news bulletin he hosted were deemed “seditious” by the country’s media regulator and government.
In August, weeks after the channel was suspended over allegedly seditious comments and its license revoked, it announced it was parting ways with Sharif.
“I lost a friend, a husband and my favorite journalist (Arshad Sharif) today, police say he was shot dead in Kenya,” his wife Javeria Siddique said in a tweet. “Respect our privacy. Remember us in your prayers.
The Kenyan Star newspaper reported that Sharif was “shot in the head and killed by police after he and his driver allegedly broke through a roadblock which had been set up to control motor vehicles using the road “.
Sharif and his driver were traveling from the city of Magadi to the capital Nairobi when they were flagged down at a roadblock manned by police officers, police told The Star.
The Independent Police Oversight Authority in Kenya will investigate the killing, the newspaper said.
“We had a shooting that turned out to be mistaken identity involving a journalist. We will release more information later,” a senior Kenyan police official said.
“According to police, at the roadblock there was a call for police to intercept a car similar to the one they were driving following a carjacking incident in the Pangani area of Nairobi where a child was taken hostage.
“And a few minutes later, Sharif’s car emerged at the roadblock, and they were stopped and asked to identify themselves,” the Star said.
“They allegedly failed to stop and drove past the roadblock. This prompted a brief chase and gunfire which left Sharif dead. Their car rolled over and its driver was injured and taken to hospital.
In a statement, Pakistani Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said Sharif’s body had been identified by the country’s High Commissioner, Syeda Saqlain, in Kenya, adding that the legal process for his repatriation had also been completed. launched.
The minister said Pakistani authorities in Nairobi have asked local officials to complete the regulatory process as soon as possible.
Prior to this, she had called Sharif’s mother to offer her condolences and share all available information with the government regarding her son’s murder.
The Pakistani Prime Minister also expressed his sadness at the news of Sharif’s death and took to Twitter to offer his condolences to his family. President Arif Alvi, who presented him with the Pride of Performance award in 2019, said it was “a great loss”.
Pakistan’s military media arm, ISPR, also released a brief statement of condolence.
In a tweet, Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission said the incident had sent ‘shockwaves through the journalistic community’ in the country and called for a ‘transparent investigation’ into the circumstances of the death. of Sharif.
A request for a ‘judicial inquiry’ was also made by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who in a tweet said: ‘Shocked by the brutal murder of Arshad Sharif who paid the ultimate price for speaking the truth – his life.
“He had to leave the country and hide abroad, but he continued to speak the truth on social networks, denouncing the powerful. Today, the entire nation mourns his death.