1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Exiled Pakistani reporter shot dead in Kenya

Wesley Dockery
October 24, 2022

Arshad Sharif was killed in Nairobi by police in a case of "mistaken identity." Pakistani political leaders and press advocates reacted in shock, with his lawyer telling DW that a proper investigation is urgently needed.

Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif
Sharif was one of Pakistan's leading news anchorsImage: YouTube/Arshad Sharif Official

Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif was shot dead in Kenya, his wife and Kenyan authorities said Monday. 

"I lost friend, husband and my favourite journalist Arshad today, as per police he was shot in Kenya," Sharif's wife Javeria Siddique wrote on Twitter.  

Sharif was shot and killed by police at a roadstop in Nairobi late Sunday while traveling by car.

Local police claimed the killing was a case of "mistaken identity," as Kenyan authorities were on the hunt for a similar vehicle which was involved in a child abduction.  

The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) in Kenya which investigates deaths and serious injuries caused by police action has launched a probe into the incident

Our rapid response team has already been dispatched to look at that matter," said IPOA chair Ann Makori. "There are several other cases of alleged police fatal shootings of members of the public, several cases of fatal shootings of their colleagues due to personal disagreement."

Sharif challenged Pakistan's powerful military

Sharif was earlier employed by the Pakistani ARY News outlet, where he pursued investigative journalism and interviewed leading Pakistani public figures.   

He was a critic of Pakistan's powerful military and a backer of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Rumors have swirled in Pakistani media and public that Sharif was assassinated.  

In August, Sharif interviewed Khan's Chief of Staff Shahbaz Gill, who stayed on with the former PM even after Khan was removed from office in April. During the interview, which was broadcast on the ARY TV channel, Gill called on soldiers to refuse "illegal orders," stirring controversy.  

Gill was arrested after the interview, with a warrant also issued for Sharif. In addition, the reporter was fired from ARY News in late August, with Sharif then fleeing to Dubai and later Kenya.

The Pakistani army takes part in military parade In Islamabad to commemorate the country's national day
The military has dominated Pakistan's politics since the country's indedendence in 1947Image: Muhammed Semih Ugurlu/AA/picture-alliance

Sharif's attorney urges independent judicial probe of death

Sharif's attorney, Shoaib Razzaq, told DW that the journalist faced death threats in Pakistan.

"He was told by the officials in the UAE to leave the country, or he'd be extradited to Pakistan," Razzaq said of Sharif, who he said was "like my brother."

Razzaq said Sharif then left for Kenya, because it grants easy entry for Pakistanis.

"We demand the government of Pakistan to help the family bring his body back," Razzaq said. "And we want an independent judicial commission to investigate his death and circumstances under which he had to flee the country."   

How did Pakistan political leaders react to the killing? 

Pakistani political leaders across the spectrum reacted in shock to the killing.   

"Shocked at the brutal murder of Arshad Sharif who paid the ultimate price for speaking the truth — his life," former PM Khan tweeted, while also calling for a judicial investigation into the incident. "He had to leave the country and be in hiding abroad but he continued to speak the truth on social media, exposing the powerful. Today the entire nation mourns his death." 

Current Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said he is "deeply saddened by the shocking news of journalist Arshad Sharif's tragic death."

The Pakistani Foreign Affairs of Ministry tweeted a statement, expressing "heartfelt condolences." 

"His family has been assured of all possible assistance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the statement added. "Further procedures including police report are awaited."   

A 'massive loss' to Pakistani journalism  

Press freedom advocates in Pakistan and abroad also mourned his death. 

"He was a brave journalist and he talked blatantly," Shahzada Zulfiqar, the former president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists told DW.

"This is a massive incident and loss to journalism in Pakistan, he was an asset," Zulfiqar added. "You can disagree with his stance, there is confusion regarding Arshad Sharif's death. This should be thoroughly investigated and it is his family's and our right to know about the reason for his death."    

"RSF calls for an international investigation in this gruesome and utterly disturbing murder," press freedom watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) tweeted. 

Pakistan ranks 157 out of 180 countries when it comes to safeguarding the rights of journalists, according to the RSF's 2022 Press Freedom Index.

"As the military has tightened its grip on civilian institutions, coverage of military and intelligence agency interference in politics has become off limits for journalists," RSF said on its website regarding Pakistan's media environment.

DW's Umer Ali contributed to this report, along with Haroon Janjua in Islamabad. Edited by: Elizabeth Schumacher