First Death Anniversary Of Investigative Journalist Today
ISLAMABAD, 23 October 2023: The family of a slain journalist has called for international investigation into murder case of late Arshad Sharif on eve of his first death anniversary as Pakistani investigating teams have so far been unable to track down killers and motives.
Arshad Sharif, Pakistan’s investigative journalist, was killed in what Kenyan authorities said “police shoot-out” in Kajiado, Kenya, on 23 October 2022. The Kenyan police later said it was a case of “mistaken identity” but the family says Arshad was “assassinated.”
As widow struggle for justice for Arshad Sharif “is very difficult,” Javeria Siddique told Freedom Network. “His killers are neither arrested in Pakistan nor in Kenya and nor any progress is made in his murder case.
“I appeal to international organizations to help me get justice for Arshad Sharif,” she made a passionate demand from global media right bodies to investigate her husband’s murder case as they probed other journalist cases.
Click link to watch video message of widow Javeria Siddiqui:
Petition in Kenyan court
Meanwhile, the widow moved the Kenyan high court with a petition to seek justice for her murdered journalist spouse. “I cannot make the petition public and can confirm it was filed,” Javeria told Freedom Network.
She said: “journalism is not a crime. Those doing journalism must be protected and international media rights bodies are obligated to defend journalists.”
Arshad Sharif murder case timelines:
23 October 2022: Arshad Sharif was reported killed in Kenya
26 October 2022: PM Shehbaz Sharif govt forms investigation team to probe the case
06 December 2022: The Supreme Court of Pakistan takes suo moto notice of Arshad murder
08 December 2023: The federal govt forms fresh team to probe Arshad murder case
13 February 2023: The Supreme Court rejects JIT report on Arshad murder case
15 June 2023: The Supreme Court rejects mother’s plea to grill Imran Khan in Arshad case
21 September 2023: Islamabad court shelves Sharif murder case
Post-Imran Khan crackdown on journalists
After the ouster of Imran Khan government in April 2022, the authorities targeted journalists who they believed were “pro-Khan” and Arshad Sharif was one of them. He was framed in many legal cases like many other journalists.
The widow said she “sent messages to authorities in Kenya” seeking answers to her questions. “The Kenyan authorities said there will be government-to-government level talks only.”
The first fact-finding team by Pakistan government, she believed, “worked well.” The team’s findings, according to a Supreme Court bench, fell short of expectations and ordered a new team’s formation.
She said Arshad’s murder dots were linked to Pakistan, Dubai and Kenya.
Arshad flew to Dubai where stayed for some time before he was asked to leave the oil-rich Gulf state. Javeria confirmed that Dubai authorities asked Arshad to leave and he boarded a Kenya-bound flight.
“In Dubai, Arshad was confined to his (hotel) room,” the widow said. “He was told to leave, otherwise, will be deported” after some time.
The Dubai authorities did not confirm if the journalist was asked to leave the country.
A lower court’s order shelving the case of Arshad Sharif on 21 September 2023 was shell-shock for everyone but not the grieving family. “We did not accept the government’s FIR nor trial under the same FIR,” Javeria said. “We want the family’s FIR is registered first.”
The widow said Arshad was planning return home after Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa’s retirement who quit the office on 29 November 2022 – 36 days after the murder of the journalist in mysterious circumstances.
“Yes, he (Arshad) has a tilt towards military as he was from a military family: father in the navy and brother in the army,” Javeria, who herself is a journalist and photographer, said.
Arshad was a “pro-democracy,” Javeria spoke of her spouse’s political thinking. “He was against the regime change and journalists who were against the ‘regime change’ were targeted.”
The widow says Arshad’s murder has changed her life.
“I am not that Javeria who used to dress well. I am no longer a well-dressed lady. All my comfort and luxury have gone with Arshad’s murder.”
Pakistan is ranked 150th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2023 report. Pakistan is among countries where impunity for crimes against journalists and media is very high.