By Umair Arif
The news on Wednesday emerged on several news channels regarding the arrest of a Lecturer named Owais Raheel of SZABIST University who is a BE from NED University and an MBA from IBA. The news clip on geo.tv website reports “Another highly educated terror suspect arrested in Karachi’s Clifton” and samaa.tv reports “Karachi professor booked for terror-ties” and arynews.tv reports “IBA graduate turned terrorist arrested in Karachi”. The CTD has arrested Owais Raheel under section 11EEEE (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act which would investigate the charges against him for at-least 3 months and then decide in the court of Law for being guilty of the alleged crime or not.
Let us step back and analyze these BREAKING NEWS stories in front of a common man. To him, this person is a Terrorist even though nothing is proved in the court of Law. The Media has defamed him with the utmost negligence just to gain ranking in the news business and just to make the news more astonishing. Since by viewing the news details, I saw that the only thing recovered from him were pamphlets and his alleged involvement in campaigning for Hizb-ut-tahrir. Interestingly, he was not found killing people, or carrying guns or grenades, or advocating sectarian hatred or involved in any terrorism related activity. Let us look at the group with whom he is claimed to be associated i.e. HuT. The group believes in an intellectual and political struggle to revive the Ottomon style Caliphate all across the Muslim word. Several of their members have been arrested earlier for their radical views regarding the existing democratic structure and the political and military leadership of Pakistan. Their members are generally found to be highly educated and they openly condemn the activities of TTP and ISIS all across the world and consider Militant struggle as Haram (forbidden). Even SSP Amir Farooqi of the CTD said on the arrest of Owais Raheel that “We have not yet found their history of terrorism”. The interviews of his students by Tribune revealed that he was a gentleman, really helpful, extremely competent in his field and never imposed his ideas. Considering this background, I believe that Owais Raheel might be set free soon enough because it is purely legal to have political and intellectual discussions and struggle in Pakistan.
But for the common man, He is a bloody terrorist who kills kids and bombs mosques and kill shias etc because the media has FRAMED the news in that direction. He has been shown connected somehow with the case of Saad Aziz and Safoora attacks and sheeba ahmed on a prime TV show. Even though it can be argued that Saad Aziz was arrested because he was found visiting at T2F and after searching the house of Sheeba ahmed nothing illegal was recovered. It shows that people are been prosecuted without evidences. Owais Raheel’s reputation has been defamed and now would have to justify himself for not being a criminal or a terrorist or killing people. This is just one example of how media has literally abused viewership power to discredit people and parties. If one ponders on the news of Drone strikes and strikes by our Air force, you would be stunned to hear that “30 or so suspected terrorists killed” or the news of Rangers operations that “10 or so suspected TTP terrorists killed”. I mean who is a suspected Terrorist? There is a clear universally accepted principle that says “Innocent until proven guilty”. But in Pakistan, It is the other way around. How can you kill a person who is suspected of a crime? How can u defame a person who is suspected to be something or someone? If Owais Raheel is not proven guilty then who would be guilty of defaming and destroying his family reputation and his career?
To add to all this is the misery faced by the families of such people and the way concerned authorities deal with them. Owais Raheel according to the family was missing since last month, they even posted a petition in court and did press conference for him earlier but they were denied any information. The CTD reports that they picked Owais on Tuesday, 6th October, 2015. Even the ZABIST administration told that he was suspended for missing classes without notice last month. Is this how we treat our citizens? Zohra Yusuf, Chairperson HRCP talking about operations in Karachi Rightly pointed out that “HRCP has many concerns with regard to due process amid a perceptible rise in suspects’ killings in encounters in Karachi, as is obvious from official figures also. We cannot stress enough the need for transparency in security operations, and unequivocally state that people being picked up and their whereabouts remaining unknown for days is utterly unacceptable.”
You kill people on suspected grounds, you defame people on suspected grounds, you arrest people on suspicion and make them terror linked on the basis of suspicion. All this is without evidence and the fruits of the National Action Plan that is being implemented or the Pakistan Protection Ordinance or the Anti terrorism Act etc. These things are a clear violation of Human rights and must clearly be accounted. Ironically, the media had been irresponsibly consistent in pushing this narrative along with the state. Whether it be in the case of MQM or kachi abadis in Islamabad, or drone strikes or army operations or Karachi operations or baloch operations. The Media needs to become a strong pillar of the state to keep it on the right track and stop portraying people and parties as criminals before proven. Let the courts decide this.