ARSHAD SHARIF – FREE SPEECH GUILLOTINED

STRAIGHT TALK by Hafeez Khan

Kenya is a beautiful country. I planned many times to visit;it just did not happen. It has scenic coastline, savannah, lakelands, valleys and mountain highlands. It is home to wildlife like lions, elephants and rhinos. Its main inhabitants are the Maasai tribe famed for their bravery. Documentaries about Amboseli Park offer views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. They are fascinating. You can visualize old world glamour in Kenya reading renowned American author Ernest Hemingway. After the brutal assassination of Arshad Sharif, my appetite to go there disappeared very quickly.  

As a flourishing trading post, many businessmen from Indian Subcontinent made their fortunes there. CurrentPrime Minister of England, Rishi Sunak’s family was one of them. With abundant wildlife, Kenya’s hunting trips by the rich and famous were a huge source of revenues and employment. However, as the animal population dwindled and awareness increased about the senseless cruelty ofhunting expeditions, they were replaced by Wildlife Safaris. Sharpshooters and marksmen that accompanied these hunting trips were suddenly unemployed. Theyfound alternate employment by joining “the death squads”; which over time morphed into Kenyan Police Unit GSU (General Services Unit).    

GSU is an elite unit that is officially deployed for VIP protection and counter terrorism. They are known to extend their services to other countries to execute terrorists in Kenya. Due to their wide mandate, they are also known to extend this offer to private parties for adequate compensation. Umpteen versions have been presented by the Kenyan police; mostly contradictory. Kenyan press is actively pursuing their own investigations and till now what has clearly emerged is that Arshad Sharif’s execution was a targeted killing. It was carried out by GSU officers and a police officer. He was shot twice, once in the head and the second bullet was to the chest. He was riding in a white Toyota Prado; its number-plate iscirculating on social media. It was not stolen; the alleged stolen car was a black Mercedes; thereby debunking previous versions.

Arshad Sharif’s martyrdom is a national tragedy that is being mourned throughout Pakistan and wherever Pakistanis live. His crime was his truthfulness, integrity and dedication to work for what is right for the country. Ever since this corrupt regime was thrust on us, relentless efforts were made to coerce and silence him. Numerous FIR’s were registered all over the country against him andthreats made against his life. It came to a point that he had to leave the country and landed in Dubai.

He continued his search for the truth and was working with Netflix on a documentary that would expose the widespread international money laundering operations of Sharifs. He continued expressing his opinions through videos on social media. A conspiracy was hatched by all the players to find a permanent solution. It happened in two steps. First under pressure from Pakistani Government, he was forced to leave Dubai. His final conversation with UAE authorities have been recorded and will eventually expose the actors. Secondly he was lured to Kenya by two brothers, Waqar Ahmad and Khurrum Ahmad who have huge business interests there.

Ahmad brothers baited him with proof regarding the laundering operations of Sharifs who also have extensive business interests in Kenya. Ahmads are arms dealersand own multiple properties in Kenya operating as “Huts and Homes Ltd.” It includes multiple firing ranges. They have close bonds with intelligence networks, Kenyan forces and international arms dealers. Arshad was staying at their farm close to Nairobi. On the fateful day he left the farm in a vehicle driven by Khurrum. As they turned from the dirt road onto the metal road, his executioners were lying in wait; they stopped the Prado and shot him dead. Khurrum was unscathed; having led the lamb to the slaughter. Fingers are pointing to Avonfield apartments in London for having financed this gruesome act.

This murder is no less tragic than the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh or Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. Yet there is stunning silence in the Western media. A few international human rights organization have picked up on this issue. The tragic death of a journalist, arguably the most popular media person amongst 220 million Pakistanis and millions living overseas, has largely beenignored. His funeral prayers in Faisal Mosque in Islamabad was attended by hundreds of thousands of mourners expressing grief and anger.

Ironically while these prayers were being conducted, the face of the establishment, DG ISPR and ISI’s Chief held a joint press conference shedding crocodile tears and trying to give a spin and point a finger at Imran Khan. Living in their cocooned world of make believe, they are completely out of step with the sentiments of the general public.Those who care for Pakistan hope that this conference was only to put their perspective on record. It is not a precursor of joining hands with the corrupt mafia to disrupt the freedom march.

Imran Khan started his freedom march on Friday from Lahore. Despite the clampdown of mainstream media, cameras are picking up the thousands of supporters coming from all over the country to join this March. It is a pivotal juncture in Pakistan’s history. Will we flourish as a fair, democratic and just society or degenerate into fascism? The numbers that have shown up are extremely encouraging. The people’s determination has to prevail to get our nation out of this quagmire of deceit and corruption.

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