KARACHI: At the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s directives, the Pakistani government on Thursday formed a new joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the alleged murder of journalist and anchor Arshad Sharif.
Earlier this week, Pakistan’s Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial used the so-called “suo moto” provision — which allows him to take up cases on his own initiative — to set up a bench of five judges to supervise an investigation into the killing of the prominent television journalist in Kenya in October.
Sharif, an outspoken critic of the government who also turned his guns on the military during the later part of his life, was shot to death by Kenyan police in Nairobi in October.
Kenyan police said Sharif’s killing was a case of “mistaken identity” during the search for a car involved in a child abduction case. But a two-member Pakistani fact-finding team that visited the East African state subsequently called the killing a “targeted assassination.”
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the government to form a fresh JIT to investigate Sharif’s killing. During the hearing today, the government’s representative, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Aamir Rehman presented a notification featuring the names of the five JIT members.
These included Awais Ahmed, deputy inspector-general Islamabad, Muhammad Aslam, an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency’s representative, Murtaza Afzal, a representative of the Military Intelligence (MI), Waqar-ud-din Syed, director of cybercrimes of the Federal Investigation Agency and Sajid Kiani, deputy director-general of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
The notification said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and Islamabad Police have been directed to facilitate the team in their probe.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who conducted the hearing of the case with a five-member bench, said MoFA had submitted its reply with “ways and good suggestions.”
The court then directed the JIT to submit a progress report to the court every two weeks.
In its response submitted in court, MoFA said the Pakistan missions in Nairobi and Dubai were corresponding to facilitate the process of investigation and gathering evidence.
The ministry said it was considering sending a special envoy to Kenya to raise the matter with local authorities and also arrange a phone call between the Kenyan and Pakistani foreign ministers.
MoFA said it was also considering to direct the Pakistani High Commission in Nairobi to push senior Kenyan officials to accelerate the matter.
Meanwhile, a fact-finding team’s (FFT) report seen by Arab News stated that the role of transnational characters in Kenya, Dubai and Pakistan could not be ruled out in Sharif’s killing.
“Both the members of the FFT have a considered understanding that it is a case of planned targeted assassination with transnational characters rather than a case of mistaken Identity,” the report said.
The team noted there were compelling reasons for Sharif to leave Pakistan, adding that criminal cases registered against him in different districts were most likely the reason why he was also asked to leave the UAE by authorities there.
Sharif had left Pakistan in August over threats to his life and after a slew of court cases related to charges of treason and others were registered against him.
“The four GSU [General Service Unit] police officials [in Kenya] ... had been used as instruments in this case under any influence, either financial or some other compulsion,” the report said.
It added that Waqar Ahmad, who hosted Sharif, was connected to the National Intelligence Service (NIS) of Kenya and other international intelligence agencies and Kenyan police.
His brother, Khurram Ahmad, was driving Sharif back to Nairobi when the shooting incident took place.