- He left Pakistan earlier this year after sedition cases were registered against him in different cities
Senior Pakistan journalist Arshad Sharif died in Kenya after being shot, his wife Javeria Siddique said early Monday morning, a development later confirmed by the police in a statement carried by local media there.
"I lost friend, husband and my favourite journalist today, as per police he was shot in Kenya," his wife Javeria Siddique said in a tweet.
"Respect our privacy and in the name of breaking please don't share our family pics, personal details and his last pictures from the hospital," she said.
The development has sent shockwaves throughout Pakistan with the journalism community demanding a thorough investigation.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said Pakistan’s ambassador to Kenya had identified the journalist’s body in a mortuary and the legal process for repatriating his body had begun.
"The Acting Foreign Secretary has visited the family of Mr Sharif and conveyed confirmation of the sad news, and heartfelt condolences on behalf of the Foreign Minister and the Minister of State," said the Foreign Office in a statement. "His family has been assured of all possible assistance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs."
The anchorperson, who was awarded the Pride of Performance by President Dr Arif Alvi in March 2019, had left Pakistan earlier this year after sedition cases were registered against him in different cities.
Kenyan media, quoting local police, says 'mistaken identity'
In a news report, The Star, Kenya, quoted the local police as saying that Arshad was shot dead by police in a case of “mistaken identity”.
The report added that the incident took place on Sunday night along the Nairobi-Magadi highway.
"Arshad 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," the news report by The Star added.
"As per police, at the roadblock, there was a call for police to intercept a car similar to the one Arshad was driving, following a carjacking incident in Pangani area, Nairobi in which a child was taken hostage. The journalist's car was stopped and the passengers asked to identify themselves, reports said, adding that they allegedly failed to stop and drove past the roadblock."
The report further stated that a few minutes later, Arshad's car emerged at the roadblock and they were stopped and asked to identify themselves.
"They allegedly failed to stop and drove past the roadblock. This prompted a brief chase and shooting that left Arshad dead. Their car rolled and his driver was injured and taken to hospital."
Condolences pour in along with calls to investigate
Following the news of his death, condolences started to pour in on social media.
President Alvi took to Twitter and termed Arshad's death a loss for journalism and Pakistan.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also tweeted that he was deeply saddened. He offered condolences and prayers for the journalist’s family.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan expressed his shock, saying that a proper judicial investigation must be instituted to examine Arshad's own statements plus evidence that other sources have.
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar said he was shocked and devastated.
Moreover, Qamar Zaman Kaira has announced that the government will demand an investigation from the Kenyan authorities.
“Arshad Sharif, not just a colleague, a brother, is no more. From Islamabad to Moscow, from Dunya News to ARY, I’ve not known a finer gentleman. Shot dead. Too young. Too brutally,” Hum News anchorperson Meher Bokhari tweeted.
“Unbelievable. May Allah rest the soul of Arshad Sharif in peace. Ameen,” journalist Hamid Mir tweeted.
"The news of colleague and old friend Arshad Sharif's death is shocking and deeply distressing," Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Public Policy & Strategic Communication Fahd Husain tweeted.
"I still can’t believe it. It’s beyond heartbreaking. This is just wrong … this is painful … I love u brother," anchorperson Kashif Abbasi tweeted.
"I still can’t believe it. I am speechless. May Allah SWT grant him the highest place in Jannah. Aameen," Founder and CEO, ARY said.
Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas appealed to the International Federation of Journalists Asia and Committee to Protect Journalists to constitute a ‘Fact-Finding Mission’ to probe the killing of Arshad.
"This case unlike many journalist murders should not go unnoticed," he added.
Journalist Kamran Khan has also called for an investigation.
Meanwhile, PTI leader Shireen Mazari claimed that the journalist was murdered by a sniper bullet to his head.
"It was not an accident as is now being floated. He had told me head money had been put on his life so he had to leave Pakistan.
"Later he said he had to leave Dubai because they had traced him there too," she said.