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Arshad Sharif murder: FIR registered in Islamabad after top court order

Apex court finds slain journalist's medical report unsatisfactory
Updated 06 Dec, 2022 07:34pm
<p>Arshad Sharif speaks during an event on “Regime Change Conspiracy and Pakistan’s Destabilisation” in Islamabad in this photo taken on June 22, 2022. AFP</p>

Arshad Sharif speaks during an event on “Regime Change Conspiracy and Pakistan’s Destabilisation” in Islamabad in this photo taken on June 22, 2022. AFP

ISLAMABAD: A first information report (FIR) was registered at the Ramna police station Islamabad Tuesday over Arshad Sharif’s murder following the Supreme Court’s order earlier in the day.

The Supreme Court had ordered the government to register the case of the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif today (Tuesday), while hearing the case on the matter.

The FIR nominated three individuals: Khurram, Waqar Ahmed and Tariq Ahmed.

Earlier in the day, the apex court had voluntarily taken the suo motu notice of the matter.

“The first thing to do in Pakistan was to register a first information report. There has been no progress in this regard in Kenya either,” CJP Bandial said the presiding judge of a five-member SC bench.

A larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Jamal Mandokhail, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, heard the case.

The court also sought the inquiry report of the fact-finding committee formed by the government to probe the killing and adjourning the hearing of the case till tomorrow (Wednesday).

During the hearing, the CJP addressed Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman and asked why the court had not yet been provided the report by the fact-finding committee. “What is happening? Why has it not been provided to the court as yet?” the CJP asked.

The additional attorney general responded by saying the report would be submitted by tomorrow. However, the CJP told him to submit it today so the hearing could continue tomorrow.

“Arshad Sharif was a leading journalist,” the judge said, adding that the fact-finding committee which had travelled to Kenya had been back in Pakistan for some time. “Why has the final report of the government formed commission not been provided to the SC?”

The chief justice of Pakistan said that he knew that the report comprises more than 600 pages. A human rights cell was working on the letter of Sharif’s mother.

The additional attorney general responded that the report would be submitted by tomorrow (Wednesday). However, the CJP told him to submit it today so the hearing could continue tomorrow.

“[We] have been waiting for the report for the past 43 days,” CJP Bandial said, terming Sharif’s medical report to be “unsatisfactory”. “We are taking the matter seriously. That is why a five-judge bench was constituted.”

Mistreatment of journalists will not be tolerated under any circumstances, the CJP said, adding that legislation should be made if someone gives misinformation.

The chief justice of Pakistan added that from October 23 till today, the court has only received the medical report. “Senior doctors did the medical but the report is not satisfactory.”

When the bench asked about the investigation in Kenya and actions taken by the foreign ministry on the murder, Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed replied that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had contacted the Kenyan president.

“The Pakistani High Commissioner in Kenya is in touch with the relevant authorities,” he said.

Justice Ahsan then asked whether it was true that a case had not yet been registered in Pakistan or in Kenya.

The foreign secretary responded by saying that he was not aware whether a case had been registered in Pakistan.

“The first thing to do in Pakistan was to register a first information report. There has been no progress in this regard in Kenya either,” CJP Bandial said asked why was the murder case not registered.

To this, the foreign secretary said that a decision in this regard would be taken after the inquiry report was reviewed.

Justice Naqvi asked if was this a legal way to file a case.

Justice Ahsan remarked that how investigations can be done without registering a case.

The SC adjourned the hearing for a day while ordering the government to register a case of murder.

SC takes suo motu notice

The Supreme Court has taken suo motu notice of the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif and sent notices to the secretaries of Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Information and Broadcsating. A five-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial heard the case at 12:30 today (Tuesday).**

“The journalist community in the country and the public at large are deeply distressed and concerned about the death of the senior journalist and are seeking the court’s scrutiny of the matter,” said the apex court’s press release issued on Tuesday.

Notices have also been sent to the director generals of the Federal Investigation Agency and Intelligence Bureau - which sent a two-member fact-finding team to Kenya - and the president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. The development comes a month after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif requested the CJP to establish a judicial commission to investigate the tragic killing of the journalist.

Sharif was shot dead in Kenya on October 23, with initial reports suggesting that he was killed by Kenyan police in a case of mistaken identity. He had spent time in Dubai prior to his departure for Kenya with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf repeatedly claiming that Sharif was forced to leave Dubai at the behest of Pakistani authorities. The Foreign Office has denied the accusation.

He was buried in Islamabad’s H-11 graveyard, Islamabad on October 27. Sharif’s body arrived in Pakistan on October 26. It was taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) for another post-mortem before being handed over to the family. The report was prepared by an eight-member team from PIMS hospital.

The journalist was tortured before being shot to death from a close distance, according to the post-mortem report. TV show host Kamran Shahid claimed that Sharif was brutally tortured for two to three hours before being killed. He also showed photos of limbs, purportedly of the slain journalist’s body, as evidence to back up his claim in his show.

However, a Kenyan journalist cast doubts on the duration of torture. “It will be important we stick to facts and facts alone. It is not scientific for a doctor or anyone to actually say how long someone was tortured,” Brian Obuya said in an interview with ARY News.

Pakistani investigators have sought information from Dubai police regarding the visa and travel details related to slain Sharif for the period that he stayed there after his departure from Pakistan and before his murder in Kenya.

The Islamabad High Court, hearing Barrister Shoaib Razzaq’s petition to form a fact-finding commission to investigate the journalist’s killing, said on October 25 that journalist organizations should be updated on the issue of inquiry.

Who was Arshad Sharif

Arshad Sharif was 49 years old and from a military family. He was born in Karachi in 1973 to Mohammad Sharif, who retired from the Pakistan Navy as a commander.

Sharif became a journalist in 1993 while still a student. He worked for English newspapers The News and Dawn before joining private-run TV channels one after the other. In 2012, he won an Agahi Award.

In 2019, Sharif was awarded the Pride of Performance for his contribution to journalism by President Arif Alvi.

His brother Ashraf Sharif was a major in the Pakistan Army. In 2011, when Mohammad Sharif died of cardiac arrest, Ashraf was deployed in Bannu and left for Rawalpindi when he heard about his father’s demise. He was killed in a car crash.

Departure from Pakistan

Arshad Sharif was in the news in August when police booked several ARY News journalists after PTI leader Shahbaz Gill made a controversial statement about the military in a live phone-in conversation on TV.

Gill was arrested and charged with inciting the personnel of the armed forces to mutiny.

Although other ARY News journalists, named in the FIR against the TV, stayed in Pakistan, Sharif left the country.

Days after his departure, ARY News issued a statement to announce that it was parting ways with Sharif.

Arshad Sharif was spotted in London soon after leaving Pakistan. It was not immediately clear what brought him to Nairobi.

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