Arshad Sharif murder: Commission won’t be able to proceed with probe, says its head

The head of an inquiry commission formed to ascertain the facts of journalist Arshad Sharif’s death, on Sunday said that the body would not be able to proceed with its investigation in the case.

Sharif was shot dead in Kenya allegedly by the local police on the night of October 23, with an official police statement later expressing “regrets on the unfortunate incident” and saying an investigation was underway.

Initially, the Kenyan media quoted the local police as saying Sharif was shot dead by police in a case of “mistaken identity”.

However, reports from the Kenyan media later reconstructed the events surrounding the killing, stating that an occupant in Sharif’s car at the time of his killing was believed to have shot at paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU) officers.

The government subsequently formed a team to probe the killing. Initially, a three-member body, comprising Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director Athar Wahid, Intelligence Bureau Deputy Director General (DDG) Omar Shahid Hamid and Lt Col Saad Ahmed of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was formed. Later, the team’s size was cut from three to two with the exclusion of the ISI official.

On Monday, the federal cabinet, on the request of the Ministry of Defence, also approved the constitution of a three-member commission — led by retired judge Abdul Shakoor Paracha and comprising Additional Inspector General of Police Usman Anwar and Hamid — to “inquire into the facts” of the death. However, Sharif’s mother rejected the commission and its composition and requested the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) to set up a judicial commission.

In a statement issued today, Paracha said he had informed the government that the commission would not be able to proceed with the inquiry for the following reasons:

  1. Dissatisfaction and rejection of commission by Sharif’s mother.
  2. Request by Sharif’s mother to the CJP for justice.
  3. DDG Hamid having already visited Nairobi as part of the first team to probe the death.
  4. No media representative as part of the commission.

Explaining the reasons, Parachi said it was not “legally sustainable that he (DDG Hamid) can be a part of the commission based on his previous findings”. Additionally, he said a media representative being a commission member was necessary so that “justice is not only served but is seen when done”.

He also referred to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s request to CJP Umar Ata Bandial for a full court commission to investigate the journalist’s killing. “I think this has served the purpose [for a commission],” Paracha said.

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