Prominent Pakistani journalist killed in Kenya
by Shafique Khokhar

Arshad Sharif had fled to East Africa after criticising the army and former premier Imran Khan. According to initial rumours, he was mistaken for another person. It is not clear what the reporter was doing in the region.

Karachi (AsiaNews) - Arshad Sharif, a well-known 50-year-old Pakistani journalist, was shot dead in Kenya. The reporter was travelling in a car with his brother Khurram Ahmed from the town of Magadi to Nairobi.

According to the Kenyan police, the journalist failed to stop at a checkpoint and was mistaken for another person. Sharif had left Pakistan in July to avoid arrest on sedition charges after criticising the army. Before reaching the African country, he had also been to Dubai and the UK.

In a tweet, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that 'a long and sad history of violent tactics to silence reporters explains why the news of Arshad Sharif's murder in Kenya came as a shock to the journalist community'. 

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his condolences and said he was deeply saddened by the news. He also informed that he had a conversation with the President of Kenya, William Ruto, and asked him to conduct a fair and transparent investigation. 

Pakistan has long been an unsafe country for journalists: in 2020 it ranked ninth in the global impunity index compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists. According to Reporters Without Borders, 'Pakistani law is used to censor any criticism of the government and the armed forces'.

Many in Pakistan wonder why Sharif decided to take refuge in Kenya. According to details, the police fired 10 shots at the journalist's car and one bullet hit him in the head.

Yesterday Nasir Ahmed, a Muslim lawyer of the International Lawyers Forum, condemned the murder during the Hindu festival of Diwali (Deepavali). Christians, Muslims, Bahi and Sikhs gathered to celebrate the Hindu holiday in one of the country's oldest temples, the Shri Lakshami Narayan Mandir.