Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Babar Iftikhar on Tuesday said the military has requested the government to conduct a “high-level investigation” into the “accidental” killing of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya.
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”.
In an interview with a news channel, when the DG ISPR was asked to comment on the allegations being levelled against the institutions, he condoled the journalist’s death and called for an inquiry into the killing.
“We have requested the government to hold a high-level investigation so that all these speculations can be put to rest,” he said.
“It is very unfortunate that people indulge in allegations […] and I think a thorough investigation needs to be conducted to tackle these things. I believe that the probe should not just be into these things but also on why Arshad Sharif had to leave Pakistan,” the DG ISPR said.
Gen Iftikhar stressed that it was important to find answers to questions regarding who forced Sharif to leave Pakistan, where did he live all this time, and what were the circumstances leading to this incident.
“At all these stages unfortunately, at the end of the day, allegations are leveled and institutions are accused. So this speculation has to be put to rest and it has to come to an end.
“This is why we have requested the Government of Pakistan to take legal action against all these people who are leveling allegations without any evidence,” he added.
Recalling Sharif’s work over the years, the DG ISPR said that the journalist was a “very professional man” and his programmes would be remembered as “textbook journalism”.
“This is why it is most upsetting that his accidental death is being used for baseless conversations and fingers are being raised on it. We just have to see who is using this unfortunate incident […] who is the beneficiary of this thing […] this needs to come to an end,” Gen Iftikhar added.
It is pertinent to mention that shortly before the DG ISPR’s interview, in a speech at a lawyer convention in Peshawar, PTI chief Imran Khan claimed that the slain journalist was a victim of a targeted killing.
“He [Sharif] never spared any mafia. He exposed these two families (Sharif and Zardari) in every programme with proof but no one could scare or abuy him … then he started getting threats from unknown numbers to ‘not say this or speak the truth when he started exposing this regime.
“Then I received information that they were about to kill him. They invaded his home and scared him in front of his family just so that he doesn’t speak the truth,” the former premier claimed, adding that he had then advised Sharif to leave the country.
“He refused [to leave]. Then, I told him that I have information, the same way I had information about a plot to kill me.”
Imran said Sharif left the country but was being called back when his visa in the UAE was about to expire. “Not because he committed a crime but just so he doesn’t speak the truth. And they wanted to do the same with him what they did with Azam Swati, Shahbaz Gill and Jameel Farooqui,” Imran added.