As you all may have heard about 3 days back Pakistan was abuzz with the abduction of a 14 yr old girl Madinah Anwar, well as the story played out it turns out that it might have been a con job by the father. Details can be read in the Express Tribune Article “Conman Shamsul Anwar Busted“.
The story of his daughter’s abduction was not newly minted, as Anwar has been portraying himself as a victim of terrorism since 2010. However, when his daughter Madina Anwar eloped to Swabi to marry her ex-fiancé, Anwar decided to take advantage of the situation. But for this purpose, he needed to gain people’s sympathies, for which he needed a story to hit the nail at the right place. Therefore he decided to present himself as a hero before the media, a hero who was being victimised for saving people’s lives. So he claimed his daughter had been kidnapped by the same terrorists who had earlier kidnapped his two sons and slaughtered one of them
In defense of the Social Media that rallied for this cause, I believe we relied upon the authenticity of The News seasoned Crime Investigative Reporter Shakeel Anjum who researched the story [It was also interesting to note that Shamsul Anwar did also convince Express Tribune reporter Sehrish Wasif of a similar story in Dec 2010 [without the Madinah Anwar kidnapping reference]
When TWO journalists [Shakeel Anjum & Sehrish Wasif] from TWO independent and credible newspapers [The News & Express Tribune respectively], fell for the same story, and later that day on the 10th of January when members of the civil society physically called Shamsul Anwar to verify the facts. We all were convinced this was a genuine story. Seriously Beyond which how can you physically verify what Shamsul Anwar has to say, short of arresting him and locating the kidnappers to then physically extracting the truth from his grip.
After the incident, and the revelation that this was a hoax, one activist did have a telephonic conversation with Shakeel Anjum and he did verify that he was convinced by the documents that Shamsul Anwar had shown him, but it has been TWO days [13th Jan today] and still no official report or a rebuttal has appeared in The News, so we await an official response from the newspaper group
It is my opinion that in those two hectic days the people of Pakistan, citizen activists and the social media rallied for saving the life of Madinah Anwar, with the best facts that they had [even after verification]. Though on a number of emails an account number was shared which was effectively deleted a few hours later [but damage was already done, since in the early morning of the 11th some kind hearted people did actually donate for the cause. The authorities have assured us that Shamsul Anwars Bank of Punjab account has been frozen and any contributions made into that account will be returned, as soon as we get more update in this regard we will share onwards
Let it also come on record, that I continue to suspect there is more to what meets the eye, a retired army Lance Naik who was as per our information [on the afternoon of the 11th Jan (before the arrest)] was supposedly on his way to meet an Army Colonel of his unit in regards to this crisis, is arrested by the SHO and taken to the Westgate Thana where he confesses the fraud. What statements were made, charges placed, and the subsequent press release made can at best be worrisome, I personally feel the abruptness of the discovery very interesting, I may easily easily be shooting ideas into thin air, but if I were to investigate this issue further, I’d any day trust two seasoned journalists for their documented research well before an SHO of any tom dick n’ harry police station in Pakistan.
I strongly suggest pressure must be applied upon The News & also Express Tribune on how this slipped through the cracks of seasoned criminal reporters, lets make sure that this mistake does not happen from such credible platforms again
Lets not give up on compassion and caring, let us all continue to find good credible causes and continue with the same loving and generous spirit that we in Pakistan are so proud of. In the two days while I was rallying for Madinah, I felt proud to be in a country, which donates selflessly, we are probably one of the highest paying philanthropic nation around the world who gives literally by the truck loads if it believes in a cause. Lets keep our chins up and shoulders upright, we have a lot more to do, and Pakistan needs this philanthropic nation to bring relief to the millions that continue to suffer