Pakistan bringing home body of journalist killed in Kenya

Nairobi police express regret over Arshad Sharif's killing, says it was a case of “mistaken identity” during a search for a similar car


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Arshad Sharif. — AP
Arshad Sharif. — AP

Published: Tue 25 Oct 2022, 8:04 PM

The body of an outspoken Pakistani journalist who was shot and killed by Nairobi police while living in hiding in Kenya was being repatriated to the capital Islamabad on Tuesday, the government said. The killing has stunned Pakistan’s journalist community, which has demanded a detailed probe into the incident.

Arshad Sharif was killed on Sunday night when the car he was in sped up and drove through a checkpoint outside the Kenyan capital and police opened fire. Nairobi police expressed regret over the incident, saying it was a case of “mistaken identity” during a search for a similar car involved in a child abduction case.

Sharif was travelling with another Pakistani resident, Khurram Ahmed, when their car failed to stop — for reasons that remain unclear — despite being flagged down at the checkpoint. Police opened fire and laid chase.

Sharif’s car flipped over and he was shot in the head and killed. His family in Pakistan said Ahmed, who had initially been identified as Sharif’s brother by the Nairobi police, was not a relative but that he was the driver of the car, according to information they received.


There was speculation that Ahmed was hurt and taken to a hospital but officials in Kenya have not announced any details about Ahmed’s condition or whereabouts.

The 50-year-old journalist fled Pakistan in July amid threats to his life.

A Pakistani plane departed from Kenya earlier on Tuesday, carrying Sharif’s body, Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb said. On Monday, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is not related to the slain journalist, spoke with Kenyan President William Ruto about the incident.

Pakistani diplomats were in attendance at the Nairobi airport when the plane with Sharif’s remains took off. Later on Tuesday, it stopped in Doha, Qatar, before proceeding on to Pakistan. Sharif’s family said his funeral will be held in Islamabad on Thursday.

Arshad Sharif left Pakistan in July to avoid arrest following a citizen’s complaint against him on allegations of maligning the country’s national institutions, a reference to the military. His whereabouts were not publicly known.

A month later, Sharif’s employer — the private ARY Television — fired him, saying he had violated the TV station’s social media policy. His talk show Powerplay, which aired on Mondays and Thursdays, was discontinued.

The station had earlier in the year remained critical of Pakistan’s prime minister following the ouster of his predecessor, Imran Khan, in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April. Khan claims he was ousted as part of a US designed plot, a charge both Washington and the Pakistani government deny. Sharif the journalist had been a prominent critic of Khan’s ouster.

On Tuesday, Khan told a gathering of lawyers in the city of Peshawar that he had asked the slain journalist to leave the country as his life was in danger in Pakistan. He paid glowing tribute to Sharif, saying the man enjoyed a good reputation and he was among those journalists who never bowed to pressure.

Pakistani journalists and the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders have demanded an independent probe into Sharif’s killing while a popular Pakistani anchorperson, Hamid Mir, on Monday said there were contradictions in the Nairobi police statements about the incident.

Later on Tuesday, Pakistan’s prime minister announced an investigation and promised its findings would be shared with the public. The military and Pakistani journalists had also requested that the government launch a probe into the killing.

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