Pakistan Press Foundation confers the 2023 Press Freedom Award on slain journalist Arshad Sharif.
The Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) has announced that the 2023 Press Freedom Award has been conferred on slain journalist Arshad Sharif.
Arshad Sharif’s experiences as a journalist in Pakistan were fraught with difficulties, including harassment and legal cases. His eventual decision to leave the country and subsequent murder in Kenya are a stark reminder of the dangers and challenges journalists face in Pakistan. Sharif’s untimely death should serve as a wake-up call to both media professionals and institutions, as well as state authorities in Pakistan, of the grave risks journalists face while performing their duties.
On World Press Freedom Day, PPF recognises and honours Sharif’s contributions to freedom of expression.” However, there remains little clarity on the circumstances of his departure from Pakistan, his eventual arrival in Kenya, and his murder on October 23, 2022. As we honour the life of the late journalist, we urge authorities to conduct credible investigations into his murder and ensure that justice is served on those who forced Sharif to flee from Pakistan.
Initially, varying versions of his death came forward, with some reports claiming it was an accident and Kenyan media claiming it was a “mistaken identity” case. However, in December, a fact-finding team (FFT) comprising officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Intelligence Bureau determined that Sharif’s death was a result of a “planned targeted assassination”.
The FFT report finds that the version of the Kenyan Police claiming the death to be a case of mistaken identity was “full of contradictions” and stated that the post-mortem indicates that the journalist had also been tortured.
In April 2022, there were reports that Sharif was facing harassment by the FIA. While the FIA had denied responsibility for the arrest or harassment, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had ordered the agency to stop harassing Sharif and other journalists. Having fled the country, Sharif was still not safe.
As Sharif’s murder is investigated, we again call upon authorities to ascertain the factors that led to his departure from Pakistan and eventual arrival in Kenya. Sharif’s ordeal is an alarming reminder of the lack of safety and the threats journalists face in Pakistan because of their work.
The high rates of impunity for the murder of journalists in Pakistan are a grim reality that requires determined efforts by all state institutions. Sharif’s murder and the reasons behind his departure from Pakistan must be investigated thoroughly. The suo-motu case of Sharif’s murder is ongoing in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and must be perused with diligence and seriousness.
Sharif, a prominent journalist in Pakistan, had an illustrious career that sadly ended with his untimely death. He had worked with several major networks in the country and was awarded the Presidential Pride of Performance Award in 2019.
Prior to leaving Pakistan in August, Sharif hosted the show Power Play on ARY News, where he had been working since 2014. However, the sedition charges filed against him and other journalists led to his departure from the country. Following this, ARY News announced that they had parted ways with Sharif, citing his failure to comply with the company’s social media code of conduct.
Before joining ARY News, Sharif hosted Kyun on Dunya News and served as the Islamabad bureau chief for Dawn News TV. He had also worked in The News and Aaj News.
Following his departure from ARY News, Sharif was set to continue his journalistic career with Bol News. However, his unfortunate passing prevented his program from being aired.