A top Pakistani news anchor was shot dead in Kenya — allegedly by police — just months after he fled his home country to avoid sedition charges, investigators said Monday.
Arshad Sharif was a frequent critic of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment and supporter of former prime minister Imran Khan, who was ousted in a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April.
“There is an alleged police killing of a Pakistani national,” Ann Makori, head of the Independent Police Oversight Authority in Nairobi, told reporters on Monday.
“Our rapid response team has already been dispatched to investigate the killing of the journalist.”
According to a police report seen by AFP, a car carrying Sharif and another man was struck by around nine rounds Sunday night as it crossed a makeshift roadblock in a remote area some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The report did not say who fired at the car, but said the pair carried on to the home of another Pakistani national.
There, Sharif was found to be dead “with a gunshot wound on the head which had penetrated from the back”.
The report said police at the time had been on the lookout for a stolen car and an abducted person. It did not say how this may have been connected to Sharif’s death.
In August, Sharif interviewed senior opposition politician Shahbaz Gill, who said that junior officers in Pakistan’s armed forces should not follow orders that went against “the will of the majority”.
The comment led to the news channel being briefly taken off air and an arrest warrant issued for Sharif, who fled the country.
The channel ARY later said it had “cut ties” with him.
Gill was detained following the interview, and Khan’s criticism of the judiciary for the detention led to his own appearance in court.
Pakistan has been ruled by the military for several decades of its 75-year history and criticism of the security establishment has long been seen as a red line.
“I lost friend, husband and my favourite journalist today, as per police he was shot in Kenya,” Sharif’s wife Javeria Siddique tweeted Monday.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry confirmed the death.
Pakistan is ranked 157 out of 180 countries in a press freedom index compiled by Reporters without Borders, with journalists facing censorship and intimidation.
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