Home Global Village Attack on Naeem Bokhari confirms Pakistan’s vulnerability to fake news

Attack on Naeem Bokhari confirms Pakistan’s vulnerability to fake news


News Analysis |

Seasoned lawyer and leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf suffered head injury and fractures to his ribs on Wednesday when he was in London for a fundraising event of Namal- a university founded by PTI Chairman Imran Khan. Initially, the spokesperson of PTI, Fawad Chaudhry, tweeted the details of the tragic incident, revealing that the lawyer had fallen from the platform of a London Tube station resulting in injuries.

Fawad also confirmed that he was in a stable condition; however, just days after the incident, outlandish rumors swirled around on social media about the reasons behind the injuries to the lawyer. A few of the social media users claimed that there was no truth to the theory that Bokhari suffered injuries after falling from a platform; they alleged that the top lawyer walked out of a bar, touched a 23-year-old girl inappropriately and was roughed up by her ‘vigilant’ brothers.

In a bid to bolster their claims, they took a screenshot of google map, confirming that the Marble Arch station – where Naeem fell – was close to the Park Lane club. Another faction of the social media buffs pitched another hypothesis that Bokhari escaped an attempted murder. In a bid to support their claims, this group cited a picture, widely shared on social media, showing a notice by the British Police, about the incident.

The misinterpretation of Naeem Bokhari’s incident comes on the heels of a news story regarding the renaming of a department at the Quaid-e-Azam University.

However, both the suppositions are false but not only the public was duped into believing the misinterpreted story, one of the most reputed leading publication also misquoted the incident miserably. The allegation by the first group – pointing towards the lively nature of Bokhari – was baseless because of the fact that the top lawyer was accompanied by his wife in his London tour. Moreover, the ‘honor’ vigilance is not something of that seriousness to prompt Londoners, to assault someone so badly.

The second theory about attempted murder was widely propagated due to the fact that most of the users confused another incident with Bokhari’s one. In actual, the attempted murder, for which British Police was finding clues relates to an incident that happened on April 27th, however, Naeem Bokhari suffered injuries on May 2nd.

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The ‘attempted murder’ conspiracy was catapulted to the maximum possible level when Pakistan’s leading publication, Dawn, carried a story quoting official sources and confirmed that a man of ‘Asian descent’ was the suspect. The 27th April incident related to the suspect Paul William Crossley, who was charged with two counts of attempted murder and the victim was in stable condition, even before Bokhari was attacked.

The severity of the attack can be gauged from the closure of station for three hours; Crossley would appear before the court on May 29th. Another incident was confused with Bokhari’s one. This pertains to the head injury of Robert Malpas, a 90-year-old engineer who was pushed onto the tracks at the Marble Arch station; he suffered head injury but was saved by a hero commuter.

Another faction of the social media buffs pitched another hypothesis that Bokhari escaped an attempted murder. In a bid to support their claims, this group cited a picture, widely shared on social media, showing a notice by the British Police, about the incident.

Interestingly, both the incidents bore uncanny resemblance to Bokhari’s one, however, the Pakistani public, as well as media, got duped, ignoring the timelines of the incidents. Naeem Bokhari has now confirmed that he fell off a platform due to drowsiness and the claims regarding attempted murder were baseless.

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Interestingly, some of the political commentators also hinted at the possibility of the ‘dance club’ theory with some trolls associated with ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, taking active part in the smear campaign. One of the social media users, Bilal Azmat, who introduces himself as PSO to Reham Khan, PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s former wife, also weighed in on the matter and claimed that Bokhari was beaten up due to his inappropriate interaction with a girl.

The fake news on social media has been a matter of constant discussion; however, its propagation by leading publication should be a matter of concern for the public. The misinterpretation of Naeem Bokhari’s incident comes on the heels of a news story regarding the renaming of a department at the Quaid-e-Azam University.

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Initially, it was reported that a resolution calling for the renaming of the department named after Pakistan’s first Nobel Laureate, Dr. Abdus Salam waved through National Assembly. However, it was later negated and confirmed that the resolution pertains to the Physics department while Dr. Abus Salam’s name was associated with the National Centre for Physics.

Social media cannot be blamed for the propagation of fake news because of the absence of onus of responsibility; however, mainstream media franchises need to bring their house in order to avoid humiliation in future. Naeem Bokhari’s incident is just one example, but it can serve as a guideline for future.

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