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Thousands attend Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif’s funeral | News


At least 25,000 people pay their respects to the veteran journalist shot dead in Kenya for allegedly resisting the rise of the military.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Thousands of people chanted “revolution” as journalist Arshad Sharif was buried after shot dead under mysterious circumstances in Kenya.

His funeral prayers were performed at Islamabad’s Faisal Mosque earlier on Thursday. Thousands of people attended, many carrying banners and flags of Pakistan and former Prime Minister Imran Kahn’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party.

The funeral was held a day after Sharif’s remains were brought home from Kenya, where he was shot Sunday while traveling with a friend in a car on the Nairobi-Magadi highway.

Sharif is one of the top messengers in Pakistan. He has a large following from various walks of life. Many people gather at the mosque to pay their last respects.

Kenyan police have admitted the 49-year-old journalist was fatally shot in what they called a case of “mistake of identity” and that express regret about the “unfortunate incident”.

A heavy police squad was deployed at the mosque to monitor the crowds, which an Islamabad police official estimated ranged from 25,000 to 30,000 people.

Attorney Aliya Fatima has taken time off work so she can pay her respects to Sharif, her mother and siblings.

“I am a regular on his show and he is one of the most learned journalists we have,” she told Al Jazeera. “Now that he’s been silent, it’s our duty to stand up and speak for him.”

People attend prayers for the funeral of the killed Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif
Thousands of mourners gather at Faisal Mosque in Islamabad for the funeral of Arshad Sharif [Abid Hussain/Al Jazeera]

Muhammed Raziq, a retired government official, also attended the funeral.

“Even if I don’t agree with his politics or watch his shows regularly, what matters is that he is a human being,” he told Al Jazeera. “He is a Muslim. He was a father. He shouldn’t have been killed.”

Many mourners gathered in the vast courtyard of Faisal Mosque, one of Pakistan’s largest, and chanted slogans such as “Arshad, your blood will make revolution and” God is great ! “

Sharif was once considered close to the Pakistani military establishment and the politician Khan.

Khan’s PTI government has been removed in April in a congressional vote of no confidence. He blamed a “foreign conspiracy” as well as the Pakistani military for colluding with his political opponents.

Later, Sharif became a stern critic of the military, which ruled the country for more than half of its 75 years as an independent nation. Critics often call it the main power broker in the South Asian country of 220 million people.

Mourner Qaiser Mustafa, 44, said he believes the establishment of Pakistan’s army and the current government was the cause of Sharif’s death.

Mustafa told Al Jazeera: “He was courageous and honest and someone who could tell the truth to authority, and they decided to silence him.

People carry Arshad Sharif’s coffin after prayers at his funeral in Islamabad [Anjum Naveed/AP]

He said Sharif opened her eyes.

“We have a romance with the military, and people trust them,” he said. “But after April, everything changed. We realized we were being played. We all make mistakes and learn from them, and perhaps Arshad also learns and develops his point of view.”

The Pakistani authorities ordered the establishment of a two-member investigative committee will go to Kenya to investigate Sharif’s murder and report it to the government.

The Pakistani military also demanded that the government immediately investigate his death.

Lieutenant General Babar Iftikhar on Thursday said that people should not point fingers.

Iftikhar said: “It must be determined exactly who benefits from killing him. “We have to wait for the report from the investigative committee. Until the report is published, it is inappropriate to make allegations.”

Pakistani Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters that those responsible for the killing have not yet been identified. “Before putting any verified facts in front of me, I don’t want to accuse anyone of this crime,” he said.

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