A Pakistani journalist who was shot dead by police in Kenya last month was the victim of a “targeted murder,” a senior member of the Pakistani government said Tuesday, without providing any evidence to substantiate his claim.
Television journalist Arshad Sharif – an outspoken critic of the Pakistani military – was killed on October 23 in a police shooting near the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
Home Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters that an initial assessment by a two-man investigative team traveling to Kenya on behalf of the Pakistani government was “that Arshad Sharif was killed in a case of targeted killing”. More evidence was needed “to confirm all this,” he said.
Sanaullah’s comments appear to contradict previous reports by Kenyan authorities that Sharif was shot and killed by police in response to reports of a stolen vehicle in an identity mistake case.
Pakistan’s interior minister also accused Kenyan police of “failing to cooperate” with the investigative team and said “key data” about the case had not been handed over by Kenyan authorities. A formal request to obtain the information had been made, he added.
Kenyan police told CNN they were unaware that Pakistani officials had made allegations of non-cooperation. “We have not received any complaints, which should be formally filed if necessary,” said police spokesman Isohi Shioso.
Shioso said the case is being handled by the police watchdog, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority. CNN has contacted the watchdog for comment.
Sharif fled Pakistan in August after being charged with sedition for allegedly criticizing state institutions and “inciting mutiny” within the military.
Those allegations followed Sharif’s interview with opposition politician Shahbaz Gill, a close ally of Imran Khan, the deposed former prime minister who was gunned down under obscure circumstances last week during a protest rally in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
After the interview, Pakistani police also accused Gill of sedition, claiming he made “anti-state comments”.
Sharif’s television news channel ARY initially claimed it was “hunted by the current regime”, but later cut ties with the journalist after it was taken off air for about a month by Pakistani media regulators.
Earlier, a close friend of Sharif told CNN that the journalist “had to flee Pakistan in August to save his life”. He had initially gone to Dubai but had to flee again due to “harassment by Pakistani officials,” the employee said.
The employee said Sharif then went to Kenya and was only in the East African country a few weeks before his death.