Human Rights

PPF Honors Slain Journalist Arshad Sharif with Press Freedom Award

Late journalist's contribution to freedom of expression recognised on World Press Freedom Day

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) has announced that the 2023 Press Freedom Award has been conferred on the late journalist Arshad Sharif. Sharif, who had an illustrious career as a journalist in Pakistan, had faced harassment and legal cases in his home country.

His decision to leave Pakistan and subsequent murder in Kenya served as a stark reminder of the dangers and challenges journalists face in Pakistan.

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, PPF recognised and honoured 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.

Therefore, the authorities are urged to conduct credible investigations into his murder and ensure that justice is served on those who forced Sharif to flee from Pakistan.

Initially, conflicting versions of Sharif’s death surfaced, 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 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 report also found that the Kenyan Police’s version of the death being a case of mistaken identity was “full of contradictions” and that the journalist had been tortured.

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 require determined efforts by all state institutions.

Sharif’s murder and the reasons behind his departure from Pakistan must be thoroughly investigated. The suo-motu case of Sharif’s murder is ongoing in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and must be pursued with diligence and seriousness.

Sharif had worked with several major networks in Pakistan and was awarded the Presidential Pride of Performance Award in 2019. However, the sedition charges filed against him and other journalists led to his departure from the country.

Sharif had been hosting the show Power Play on ARY News, where he had been working since 2014. Following his departure, 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 had worked with several other news outlets, including Dawn News TV and Aaj News.

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