Arshad Sharif’s Assassination Is An Attack On All Journalists. But Let’s Not Valorise His Brand of ...

Arshad Sharif’s Assassination Is An Attack On All Journalists. But Let’s Not Valorise His Brand of Journalism
Arshad Sharif’s death is unbelievable – just like Aamir Liaquat and Saleem Shehzad’s. Somehow, we believe that the young people should not die before the old ones.

Arshad flew to Dubai from the Peshawar Airport on August 10 after a sedition case was registered against him on May 22. He was scared for his life that he lost on October 24 in Kenya. He was shot dead by the Kenyan police at a roadblock.

Everybody is condemning Arshad’s murder. Everybody is upset and worried about the future of press freedom, protection of life in the field of journalism.

Saleem Shehzad was killed on May 30, 2011. Hamid Mir was shot and wounded by gunmen on April 19, 2014. Matiullah Jan was kidnaped from a busy street in Islamabad on July 22, 2020 and released hours after. Absar Alam was shot and injured in Islamabad on April 20, 2021. Asad Toor was brutally tortured by unidentified assailants on May 25, 2021. Judicial Commissions investigated these attacks but we have yet to see the reports as well as the culprits.

Arshad’s murder has covered every journalist in a thick shroud of fear. Army’s critics and Imran Khan’s supporters might be thinking that it could be their turn after him. That is why, everybody is condemning this murder. A journalist who had already predicted his murder is dead while he was running for his life. This is shocking.
“He (Martin Luther King, Jr.) always used to say you have no choice about being born or dying. The only thing you have a choice about is what you die for.” — Andrew Young (a friend and confidant of King’s).

However, declaring Arshad a martyr, a revolutionary who laid his life for democracy or freedom of speech or the truth or this or that is highly farcical. His views and tweets are a powerful testimony to the fact that he had abandoned fair and accurate journalistic practice. For years, he promoted the things the powerful quarters wanted to sell via the mainstream media.

Hamid Mir got six bullets in his body. He did not run away. Asad Toor had his ribs broken. They did not leave the country. Absar Alam received a bullet. He is still in Pakistan. Matiullah Jan is also here. All of them had sound reasons to leave Pakistan and seek political asylum in any part of the world. None of them did so.

Arshad was soft spoken and presented his viewpoint politely without abusing others. But he had his moments when he lost his cool. For instance, he manhandled Youtuber (Siddique Jan) in Gwadar? Now Jan is also praising Arshad to the skies today! Arshad did not treat Umar Cheema well when Mir was shot.

Arshad emerged as a great investigative reporter in the beginning. But over time as he embedded himself in the power centers he became controversial and in his last years partisan in favour of a political party. A journalist should not be a party to a power struggle or political conflict. History will always remember Khawar Naeem, Iqbal Jafferi, Nasir Zaidi and Masoodullah Khan as the brave journalists of this land who refused to take sides and made a choice to stay loyal to the task of a journalist.

Arshad’s supporters especially in the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf are claiming that he was pitted against a few powerful men of this country. But he was also aligned with the politicking of a political leader who wants the powerful men to act in his favour.

However, none of this can justify violence. Arshad’s murder is unacceptable. Justice must be done.

Mohammad Shehzad is based in Islamabad. He has been writing for national and foreign publications since 1992. He is the author of The State of Islamic Radicalism in Pakistan (Routledge Taylor & Francis) and Love and Fear: Poems Beyond Time ( He learns tabla and classical vocal music. He is a passionate cook and shares his recipes at Email: