ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday formed a panel of five judges to supervise an investigation into the death of a prominent journalist who was shot and killed in Kenya.
Journalist Arshad Sharif, 50, was killed on October 23 while travelling in a vehicle on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Kenyan police said it was a case of mistaken identity.
The Supreme Court said it had taken up the case voluntarily and was seeking responses from Pakistan’s foreign and interior ministries, the Federal Investigation Agency and Intelligence Bureau.
“The journalist community 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,” the court said in a statement.
The Chief Justice ordered the government to register the First Information Report (FIR) of the murder and submit the report of the fact-finding committee before the court on Wednesday, December 7. Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial issued the directives during the hearing of the suo motu notice of the journalist’s brutal killing.
After the court order, the Islamabad police registered the FIR of the case in the Ramna Police Station. According to the FIR, three persons -- Waqar, Khurram and Tariq -- have been named as accused in the case.
“I welcome Supreme Court taking suo moto notice of the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif,” he said in a Twitter post.
Shehbaz Sharif mentioned that he had already written a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan for setting up a judicial commission to probe the murder.
The five-member bench headed by CJ Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar took up the case for hearing of the suo motu case.
The court also issued notices to the Interior Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Information Secretary, Director Generals of the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief, and President of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).
At the outset, the CJ asked why the report of the fact finding committee was not provided to the court. Additional Attorney General informed the court that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah was in Faisalabad when the report was received. The report will be handed over to the SC once Sanaullah goes through it, he said.
CJ warns to summon Sanaullah
Does the interior minister have to make changes to the report? the CJ asked, adding the court could summon Sanaullah. It is the government’s job to investigate, not the judiciary’s, the CJP said.
Journalist Arshad Sharif, 50, was assassinated on October 23, 2022 while travelling in a vehicle on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Kenyan police said it was a case of mistaken identity.
Arshad Sharif had fled the country citing threats to his life after the government registered a treason case against him.
“The journalist community 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,” the court earlier said in a statement. Sharif worked for many years as a prime-time television news show host for ARY News in Pakistan.
Kenyan police said Sharif was shot dead when police hunting some car thieves opened fire on the vehicle he was travelling in as it passed their roadblock late at night without stopping.
The Kenyan police had formed a roadblock using small stones but the car in which Sharif was a passenger failed to stop, even after officers opened fire, police said in a report. Nine bullets hit the car and one hit Sharif in the head.
According to Pakistan’s Interior Minister there is evidence that it was a targeted killing based on initial findings of a Pakistani team of investigators who visited Kenya last month.
Former Prime Minister Khan has alleged that Sharif had been murdered for his journalistic work. He called for a judicial investigation.