Wednesday, November 02, 2022
NAIROBI, KENYA: Slain journalist Arshad Sharif’s visit visa to Kenya was sponsored and he didn’t get the entry visa on arrival, immigration authorities in Kenya said.
Authorities involved in the murder investigation of the prominent journalist told Geo News here that Sharif arrived in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, on a visit visa after he was sponsored by a businessman from Nairobi.
The sponsor letter to visit Kenya was sent by Nairobi-based property developer Waqar Ahmed, brother of Khurram Ahmed — who was driving Sharif on the fateful night of October 23 — when the journalist died in a hail of bullets rained on him by the Kenyan police at a deserted area.
Khurram and Waqar arranged a visit visa for Sharif at the request of a Dubai-based British Pakistani.
It has been claimed that Sharif was forced out of Dubai and he chose Kenya because the country was amongst the nations that offered visas on arrival to Pakistani nationals.
While there is little doubt that Sharif faced threats to his life over his critical views and left Pakistan at the start of August this year in a hurry from Peshawar to Dubai, immigration authorities shared that Kenya no longer offers on-arrival entry to Pakistani passport holders and the record showed that Sharif reached the African country on a sponsored visit visa.
A source shared: “Arshad Sharif’s visa was sponsored. He reached Nairobi on a visit visa. He applied for an e-visa to enter the country and attached a sponsor letter with his application as well as a copy of the return ticket, his employment contract and the place of residence and a local contact number.”
A Pakistani diplomat in Kenya also told Geo News that the Kenyan immigration ministry has confirmed to Pakistan that Sharif was on a visit visa in Kenya and was staying here legally.
Those carrying American and British passports also have to obtain a visa to enter the country.
A Kenyan immigration official shared that on-arrival visas are issued only in exceptional circumstances and this didn’t apply in Sharif’s case as he entered the country without any issue.
Both Waqar and Khurram have been questioned by Pakistan’s investigation team — Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director Athar Wahid and Intelligence Bureau (IB) Deputy Director General Omar Shahid Hamid — to ascertain the facts of the journalist’s murder.
“I met Arshad Sharif only once and that too at a dinner,” Waqar told the investigation team, adding that he had invited the senior journalist for a meal at his lodge outside Nairobi.
“On the incident day, Sharif had a meal with us at our lodge. After the meal, Sharif left with my brother Khurram in the car and half an hour later there was a report of firing on the vehicle,” he told the team.
The two brothers told the Pakistani investigating officers that the slain journalist was planning to move to Nairobi and for that he extended his visa too.
A source shared it was true that Sharif's initial visa was for one month and then he extended it.
He arrived in the Kenyan capital on August 20 and died on October 23 in a shootout in which Khurram survived miraculously.
The shooting dead of Arshad by police in Kenya has caused outrage in Pakistan, leaving many wondering how such a thing could have happened.