Killing of Pakistani journalist in Kenya ‘planned assassination’, report claims

Their report has been released weeks after the mysterious killing of Mr Sharif triggered widespread condemnation and calls for an independent probe.
Killing of Pakistani journalist in Kenya ‘planned assassination’, report claims
Arshad Sharif (AP)

The killing in Kenya of outspoken Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif was a “planned assassination”, Pakistani investigators have said.

Their report has been released weeks after the mysterious killing of Mr Sharif triggered widespread condemnation and calls for an independent probe.

Meanwhile, police in Islamabad have charged two Pakistani businessmen living in Kenya who had hosted Mr Sharif in connection with his killing.

The report offered no evidence for its claims and there was no immediate comment from Kenyan officials.

Mr Sharif, 50, was hiding in Kenya to avoid arrest at home on charges of maligning Pakistan’s national institutions – a phrase which is used for critics of the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for half of its 75-year history.

He was killed on October 23, when the car he was in sped up and drove through a checkpoint outside the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and police opened fire.

Nairobi police later 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.

News of the killing shook Pakistan and, days later, thousands of people came out for Mr Sharif’s funeral as the nation mourned.

The international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders demanded an independent probe. Pakistan’s prime minister announced an investigation and promised the government’s findings would be shared with the public.

The military and Pakistani journalists also demanded a probe, as did Mr Sharif’s widow, Javeria Siddique, his mother Riffat Ara Alvi, and other family members.

The investigators’ 592-page report, seen by The Associated Press, said the Kenyan police issued contradictory statements following the killing.

As part of the probe, two Pakistani officials had travelled to Kenya where they met with police and Mr Sharif’s hosts, brothers Kuram and Waqar Ahmed.

According to the report, Kuram told the investigators that he was in the car with Mr Sharif at the time of the shooting, travelling home after dinner.

They saw the roadblock, which Kuram believed to have been set up by robbers. As they sped through without stopping, he heard the fatal gunshots, he said.

Kuram said he then called his brother who advised that he keep driving until they reached the family’s farmhouse, several miles away.

Once at the house, the brothers found Mr Sharif was already dead, Kuram was quoted as saying.

The report shed no light as to whether it found Kuram’s account suspicious.

It only said the Kenyan police were apparently “used as instruments” in the killing, possibly with financial or other compensation – again, without elaborating or offering evidence to support the accusation.

“This was a planned, targeted assassination … rather than a case of mistaken identity” as the Kenyan police claimed, the report said.

It refrained from blaming anyone specifically, saying only that individuals in Kenya, Dubai or Pakistan may have had a role in the death.

Mr Sharif had stayed in the United Arab Emirates after leaving Pakistan in August and before travelling on to Kenya.

The report further suggested that the bullet that fatally wounded Mr Sharif was fired from either inside the car or from close range.

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