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JIT on Arshad Sharif’s murder

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Controversy on the formation of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe Arshad Sharif’s murder in Kenya still persists, the forestalled justice process in our country adding value to the sense of deprivation from basic Human Rights among Journalists and other communities. Despite being high-profile murder, our justice system is still clueless in deciding who and how to find-out culprits behind the mysterious killing of a senior Pakistani Journalist at hands of Kenyan Police at Nairobi later in October, this year.

After some 45 days, the Supreme Court finally took a Suo Motu notice and First Information Report (FIR) was lodged on its orders at Islamabad’s Ramna Police Station on the complaint of Station House Officer (SHO) Rasheed Ahmed nominating three suspects including Waqar Ahmed, Khurram Ahmed, and Tariq Ahmed Wasi.

Following the FIR, a five-member JIT that was constituted by IGP Islamabad naming DIG headquarters as its chairman did not survive even a day as it failed to win Supreme Court’s trust. However, the top Court wanted a specific FIR of the case, saying Wednesday’s FIR is brief as an investigation had not taken place and there are no eyewitnesses mentioned.

In fact, “the Journalist was brutally murdered,” remarks SC citing the Fact Finding Team’s report submitted to it at 1:00am Wednesday. SC also asked the government to seek the Kenyan government’s cooperation. The difficulty is somehow squeezed as Additional Attorney General (AAG) Aamir Rehman informed SC that the shooters were allegedly Kenyan Police officials.

Many questions still need to be answered, why authorities genuinely don’t want to protect Journalists with a firm pledge to bring culprits behind late TV Anchor’s murder to justice? What are the factors that dividing govt and Supreme Court over the issue as Supreme Court rejected govt’s JIT and asked for a new “independent” body?

Unless these and many more questions are answered, by the Kenyan authorities as well as our own administration, the truth about Sharif’s killing may never be unveiled, and those responsible for his death will not be brought to justice.

“Federal government should immediately form a new investigation team. The Court wants an independent team to investigate the issue,” remarked Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial as the Supreme Court resumed the hearing of the Suo Motu case of Sharif’s murder.

An Investigation Team having unanimous trust of Arshad Sharif’s family, Judiciary, government and opposition needs to be formed in order to serve justice to the slain Journalist and build confidence among other media persons that they are protected in the country.

For media organizations, each and every step in the probe must be followed closely, and demand for thorough investigation should not be withdrew. In previous alike cases, there is been no firm follow-up and the media lenses are usually shifted from the cases. For instance, media seemed to be not interested in talking about life bid on Absar Alam, abuse of Asad Ali Toor at his residency, and abduction of Matiullah Jan, etc.

But the fact is that our record when it comes to protecting Journalists is far from satisfactory. According to UNESCO’s statistics, 85 Journalists have been killed in Pakistan since 1993 with hardly any of the perpetrators of these crimes being punished. Every threat to journalists must be taken seriously, while those who threaten the media fraternity must face justice to end this climate of impunity.

Published in Daily Country News, December 8th, 2022.

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