In Pakistan, like so many other developing countries, media is considered to be the most powerful means to attain all sort of fair and unfair ends. Media houses are mostly owned, used and controlled by none other than the powerful business tycoons. Politicians who use media – both print and electronic – for their personal or political interests, need to make alliance with the wealthy and powerful businessmen. This alliance of businessmen and politicians excludes ordinary people from the world of media. Unfortunately, the poor appear on TV screens and on the pages of leading newspapers only when they are not to challenge the status quo, rather to benefit the business and increase profit.

Social media in the 21st century challenged the monopoly of mass media to a reasonable extent. But even now social media is being used by the powerful to fool the poor across the world. However, the positive role of social media is also worth mentioning. It helped save lives, initiated debates to end oppression, gave voice to those who were unheard and so many other developments are there only because of the social media.

In Pakistan, like rest of the world, both mass media and social media are powerful tools to influence public opinion and control mass psychology. In Pakistan, however, very unfortunately, social media is as controlled (indirectly may be) and misused as the mass media.  There are so many examples in this regard that can be quoted here to argue how campaigns on social media are run to defame and degrade innocent people for personal, but mostly for political, reasons. This is something that hurts so many and prevents them from using social media.

A few days ago, there was a ferocious campaign against an Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife, who allegedly beat up their child maid, on social and electronic media. The media stated that the judge’s wife had beaten up the child maid because a broom was missing. “Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife are facing charges of keeping a juvenile housemaid in the wrongful confinement, burning her hand for a missing broom, beating her with a ladle, detaining her in a storeroom and threatening her”, reported Dawn.

TV programs have been aired to highlight the issue so that justice may prevail. Some anchors were so upset and desperate that they just wanted to hang the judge and his wife without any further investigation. The judge, in their view, has committed a heinous crime so he must be punished without any delay.

Social media played its own ‘unique’ role in spreading the news and compelled the concerned authorities to take immediate actions.

This is completely false. I am shocked to read this tweet by a well-known journalist. Unbelievable.

The question is, what if ‘some influential’ people are using that poor girl and also social media stars like Farhan Virk?

This is true. But what if some racist upper-class people are using that poor girl to teach some lessons to the judge? You ignored the point? Think again.

And then the Chief Justice of Pakistan took suo moto action and ordered the concerned authorities to report within 24 hours.

The point is, no matter what comes out of all this legal process, the judge and his wife have lost what they had earned so far: respect and status. And this happened even without any proper investigation and the decision of the court. No court has decided anything against him, but he (the judge) is being abused and humiliated.

When I came across the news I read it thrice. But I was unable to make any sense out of the stories circulating in the media. A broom was missing. 6,000 were to be returned. A hand was burnt. A face was slapped. A child was tortured. How did it happen? And more importantly, why it happened.

I started searching about the case. I approached some of the colleagues of Khurram Ali. My very simple questions were about his personality as a judge and more importantly as a human being. Surprisingly, what they were saying was absolutely not matching with the media reports I was looking at.

Khurram was selected as second-lieutenant in Pakistan Army but he quit. He was appointed as a civil judge but he resigned. And then he was selected as ADSJ. He has studied English Literature and law.

Tayyaba, the victim, was there to look after the little child of the judge, and her two sisters work in the homes of relatives of Khurram Ali. Tayyaba belongs to Jaranwala, Faisalabad. Her father is a poor guy who lives with his wife in the village. A few days ago she fell down from stairs and was sent for the treatment in a hospital. But after one or two day she was missing. The judge reported the matter to police to find out the girl.

But after that the story which came up on the scenario is before us; something disgusting and really pathetic.

After speaking to his close aides I have a few questions in my mind and I want you all to think about those points as well.

1.      Has Khurram Ali passed any order against any influential person a few days ago?

2.      Was he receiving any sort of threats (directly or indirectly)?

3.      Has he refused to favor someone ‘powerful’?

4.      Was he really beating up a child who plays with his children for such minor reasons like for a missing broom or 6,000 rupees?

Furthermore, there is no denying the fact that in Pakistan we witness a series of cases of child abuse and severe violations of human rights, but one must not forget that in this unfortunate country most of the times poor people are used to fulfil the interest of the rich. I belong to a rural area of Punjab and I do know how one powerful uses the poor guys against the other powerful. Sometimes, sons and daughters are wounded to gain money or any other material or non-material benefits from the opponents. It is important to understand the reasons behind every wound so that no innocent ever gets punished without committing a crime.

Let me clarify one more important thing. I am not saying that the judge shouldn’t be investigated. A due process of investigation must be followed and if the judge turns out to be the oppressor he ought to be punished as per law. But before any investigation, and the decision of the court, bashing, abusing, degrading, humiliating and threatening the judge or any other individual is absolutely unacceptable in any civilized society. 

Lastly, let’s hope for the best and expect sanity and justice may prevail.

Note: The first paragraph of this write-up actually sums up the reasons to explain why there are media trials in Pakistan.