Death of prominent Pakistani journalist, Anthropology professor comments

Muhammad Hassan Aamir, Staff Writer

The death of Arshad Sharif, a prominent Pakistani journalist, caused outrage and questions in Pakistan. Following the charge of sedition, Sharif had fled to Kenya to escape arrest because Pakistan does not have an extradition treaty with the Kenyan Government. 

According to CNN news, Arshad Sharif was charged with sedition following his criticism against state institutions and “abetting mutiny” within the military. Consequently, he fled to Dubai where because of harassment by Pakistani officials, he eventually went to Kenya. 

Professor Arsalan Khan, assistant professor of the Anthropology department, discussed with the Concordy about Sharif’s death and what it means for the country in the midst of political and economical uncertainty. 

Speaking on Arshad Sharif, Professor Khan remarked that “he had a history of entanglement with the state institutions. He was complicit in extending the writ of military power.” 

He continues, “he was tied very closely with Imran Khan, and this closeness led to his demise. He was part of pushing the regulations of politics enforcing the might and power of state institutions. However, when he pushed the anti-state agenda, the institutions that he once supported and propped up went against him because he was tied to former Prime Minister Imran Khan.” 

He continues “anytime someone evokes issues of National Security i.e. any expression against the state institutions they are punished. Overtime, we have seen that there has been a clampdown on social media, activists, and bloggers.” 

When asked about the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, Professor Khan remarked that “we do not know the whole truth, and in fact we might never know the whole truth. The reality is that people will read their politics into it.” 

Professor Khan continues, “there is good reason to speculate following the death of other journalists and bloggers under extremely mysterious circumstances.” Additionally, Professor Khan calls for accountability of journalists within the country. He comments, “Pakistan is slowly becoming one of the most unsafe countries for a Journalist. We see a trend developing in which when a journalist or blogger crosses an imaginary red-line which includes but is not limited to the Baloch Insurgency, the PTM (Pashtun Tahafuz Movement), the Establishment, etc., there are consequences.”

Professor Khan concludes that “anywhere across the world, there is somewhat of a chilling effect that echoes throughout the world.” He echoes the words of the Foreign Press Association, Africa which said in a statement that “it was deeply disturbed” by Sharif’s killing, especially the circumstances in which he died. 

“Sharif’s death has robbed the media fraternity globally of a dedicated and forthright journalist,” The association added “that it is calling on authorities in Kenya to investigate the incident and thereby assure “foreign journalists based in the country and covering Africa, including those who visit on assignment and other professional undertakings that they’re safe,” according to CNN.