The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday directed the government to keep journalists’ bodies on board while it investigates the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif reportedly at the hands of the Kenyan police two days ago.

Sharif was shot dead in Kenya allegedly by the local police on Sunday night, with an official police statement later expressing “regrets on the unfortunate incident” and saying an investigation was underway.

Initially, Kenyan media quoted the local police as saying Sharif was shot dead by police in a case of “mistaken identity”.

Amid widespread condemnation and condolences pouring in from various quarters, a petition was filed with the IHC yesterday, seeking the court to order the formation of a judicial commission to investigate why the journalist was forced to flee Pakistan, and later the United Arab Emirates. The court had admitted the plea the same day.

The hearing

In its hearing, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said he made it to the court today for this particular case.

“Did anyone visit the aggrieved family? Do they need any [legal] assistance,” Justice Minallah asked while reminding the government of the court’s previous orders wherein directions were issued to government officials to visit the heirs of the slain journalist.

Petitioner Shoaib Razzaq said the body of the slain journalist would reach home today. He reiterated his request to the court that a judicial commission must be formed to probe the death of Sharif.

Justice Minallah remarked that journalists’ organisations should be kept on board with the inquiry, and the formation of the commission at this stage would not serve any purpose.

Deputy Attorney General Syed Ahsan Raza Shah said the incident was indeed unfortunate, adding a report from the Kenyan government was awaited.

“Once the report from the Kenyan government is received and if the petitioner raises any objections to it, we will listen to his concerns,” he told the court.

After hearing arguments, the court adjourned the hearing for a week.

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