No closure

WHAT is a Pakistani life worth in the eyes of the state? Clearly not enough, if one were to draw a comparison with Canada, which has thought nothing of jeopardising its relations with New Delhi as it takes a stand for the rights of an adopted citizen. Soon after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly held India responsible for orchestrating the assassination of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, opposition leader Pierre Poilievre quickly voiced his support, saying, `We must be united for our home and for each other. Let us all lock arms and join hands in condemning this murder, standing with the family and friends of its victim.` It is difficult to overlook their response while confronting the apparent lack of energy in our own authorities` efforts to investigate or prosecute the murder of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya last year. It has been 11 months since Sharif was killed in highly suspicious circumstances by a Kenyan paramilitary outfit, but despite the incident being described by a Pakistani fact-finding committee as a `planned, targeted assassination` perpetrated by `transnational characters`, we still know very little about the individuals involved and their motives.

This week, a case filed on behalf of the state against Sharif`s murder was shelved due to the prosecution`s `disinterest` in pursuing it. The Sharif family had persistently refused to join the case proceedings, as they felt the state had disregarded their `right` to file the FIR as the slain journalist`s heirs. While the state must respect the family`s wishes, the case`s shelving should not put an end to efforts to trace Sharif`s killers and hold them to account. According to Sharif`s family, the journalist, whose departure from the country was sudden, had said that his life was under threat from certain elements. It remains to be determined if these same elements eventually became involved in his killing.

It is disappointing also to note the seeming lack of interest from international media rights organisations in pursuing Mr Sharif`s case. Sustained pressure from them could have pushed the authorities of both countries to pursue their investigations matter more vigorously and make a clear determination of the facts of the case it is a course they can still pursue. This high-profile assassination cannot be brushed under the carpet, nor should its perpetrators be allowed to walk free.

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