Pakistan tweeple were horrified when they read this story which appeared in one of the leading English dailies of the country, The News and many of them jumped to help this ‘heroic’ man in his time of need, doing all they thought they could. So horrified they were that tweets asking for donations to help the poor soul inundated timelines and in a matter of hours the hash tag #SaveShamsulAnwar was everywhere. Horrified internet activists took to social media platforms to share the plight of the man and his family and suddenly the news was everywhere.
The story was, quite simply, heartbreaking. Here was a man who’d lost sons at the hands of the Taliban, when all he’d done was to protect his fellow countrymen. Retired army personnel, Shamsul Anwar was, despite tragedy, holding on patiently and hoped for the safe return of his daughter – who was also captured by the terrorists wanting revenge for his courage. But he was also prepared for the worst, the news report stated. With the name of Ansar Burney, a leading human rights champion of Pakistan, authenticity was added to the cause. Donations poured into Anwar’s account, the details of which were also published by the leading Pakistani daily.
What happened then could only be described as a terrible event. The story was the concoction of one man who played around with the emotions of the entire country. As people were praying for his kidnapped daughter’s safe return, they were also being duped.
So who does the blame lie with? The man who concocted the story for personal gain, or the newspaper that published the fabricated story? The real blame lies with the newspaper that published the story of its reporter without fact checking the sources – not the man who cheated the nation.
Is there a silver lining to this? Yes, there definitely is. This episode tells you that despite all that we as a nation have to suffer every day, we are still ever ready and willing to help. This episode of deceit should tell us that all we need to do to prosper is to have hope. That there are still people here in our country that are there to help their fellowmen in need.
Do I feel deceived, wronged and cheated? Definitely. But alongside that I feel very hopeful. Hopeful about the fact that we are still willing to trust. That we still have goodness in our hearts. And quite simply, that we still care – if nothing else, that’s something we should all be proud of.