Too little, too late?

The Supreme Court’s suo motu notice of the Arshad Sharif case may show practical limits

The Supreme Court’’s taking suo motu notice of journalist Arshad Sharif’s murder in Nairobi may be a case of too little too late. An FIR of the murder was registered by the Ramna Police Station’s SHO on the Court’s order on Tuesday. The complainant said in the FIR that he had gone to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences on the night of October 26, when the medicolegal examination of the body was conducted, while the murder had been committed in Nairobi on October 23. While the Supreme Court (and the Ramna Police) could legally claim jurisdiction, the Kenyan authorities would normally have priority. The right of Mr Sharif’s mother to register the FIR was also asserted by his widow. However, so far, it had not appeared that the family was interested in registering an FIR, though the Court had taken cognisance of Mr Sharif’s mother, for the copy of the post mortem report on the basis of which a FIR was to be registered. The FIR registered, nominates three men, all Pakistanis residents in Kenya, who hosted Sharif in Nairobi. The Supreme Court saw the 592-page report filed by the original JIT constituted by the government, but ordered a new JIT constituted, specifying that it include an officer from the ISI. The ISI had pulled out its nominee from the JIT because it was one of the agencies accused of being behind the murder.

Mr Sharif’s killing had become something of a political football between the PTI and the PML(N), as though neither accused the other in so many words, hints were dropped. The noise was loud enough for the DG ISI to make a highly unusual public appearance to deny involvement. One of the effects of the Supreme Court taking an interest in the case is that it may still, or at least muffle, the voices of so-called experts, whose wild speculations cause the family needless pain.

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It is perhaps unfortunate that case has moved simply from the murder of a journalist abroad, where he had been forced to flee after things grew too hot for him at home, into a cause célèbre. Because of that, the government should have treated the case with more sensitivity. It is to be hoped that the Supreme Court’s intervention does not prove merely a gesture, but that there is a thorough investigation, and it is not dismissed by the government as another citizen killed abroad.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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