Are “leaked” video confessions becoming the new trend in politics?

Published: June 21, 2016

First it was Saulat Mirza and then the rest of the videos started making their way towards electronic media. Confession after confession came, mainstream politicians were named, with Dr Asim Hussain’s being the latest one in the series. Each video provides enough fodder to sustain our TV talk shows for an entire week.

This trend of declassifying confessional videos has taken electronic media by storm. Back in the day, we were confined to print media reports, putting our faith in anything the newspaper had to say. Now we have actual statements made by suspects in front of a camera only to be aired on all mainstream news channels.

Why video confessions?

In the absence of an effective judiciary, when justice is only for the rich and the powerful and when judges fail to send the corrupt and criminals behind bars, there is a desperate attempt by certain covert organisations and agencies to bring certain facts into the limelight. The reasons could either be political in nature or outright patriotic fervour.

What could the objectives be?

After Saulat Mirza’s confessions, it was rumoured that a ban would be enforced on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and all its political activities. Major political talk shows were discussing that MQM leadership days were over and that, very soon, we would be observing arrests and further confessions.

Anti-MQM lobbies started flexing their muscles hoping for a major shift in the MQM vote bank. No such expectations and anticipations ever materialised and despite the several crackdowns on MQM, their vote bank stays as strong as ever. Then came the confessions of Khalid Shamim in connection to the murder of the slain MQM leader, Dr Imran Farooq. Names were taken, revelations were made, but nothing concrete was witnessed. With no tangible and presentable evidence, the case seems to be going nowhere.

Dr Asim Hussein’s confessions were on a similar wavelength; big shots were named, political connections were revealed and tales of corruption were narrated. Here again, the video confessions weren’t enough to apprehend the named suspects and bring them to justice.

Who could be behind such videos?

Category 1

There are a number of investigation agencies in the country working on domestic and international cases. The minds and hearts of law enforcement/investigation officers of such agencies are filled with patriotism and nationalism. They do observe the lawlessness that prevails in our country, wanting to change the system, go vigilante whenever and wherever necessary, purely in good faith and for their motherland. The declassification of confessional videos could be one of them.

Category 2

The political leadership in Pakistan is famous for making friends only to dump them at the next available opportunity. While doing so, such confessions are used as arm twisting tactics to get certain favours. With so many skeletons in the closets of almost all major political parties of Pakistan, political battles are now fought on covert fields where actions such as backstabbing, declassifying and arm twisting are a trend. Heaps of files on corruption and crime are kept stored in vaults only to be used against individuals and groups whenever the ‘time is right’.

What could be done to prevent such videos from being leaked in the future?

The judiciary will have to get its act together. Speedy justice should be ensured regardless of the circumstances. Such videos, to a great extent, are very much aligned with popular public opinion. This is where the government and the judiciary will have to play their roles in putting criminals behind bars, take them through swift and speedy trials and punish the guilty ones. The general public and ‘patriotic hidden forces’ of Pakistan demand justice. Otherwise there will be more of these videos in the days to come.

Arsalan Faruqi

Arsalan Faruqi

An entrepreneur with a degree in computer engineering and an MBA from IBA Karachi. He tweets as @arsalanfaruqi.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • vinsin

    Video confessions have no legal value, they are only for domestic or political consumption.Recommend

  • S.R.H. Hashmi

    The writer has ascribed basically two reasons to the airing of confessional videos. He has described these either being political in nature with a view to arm-twist the opponents or where the agencies, which he described as full of patriotic fervour, air the videos in good faith in order to bring to public notice horrible conduct of some individuals which, they think, is unlikely to lead to successful prosecution and sentencing of the individuals due to lack-lustre performance of the judicial system.
    However, as the allegations made by various sectors of disappearances, torture and even extra-judicial killings indicate, the agencies are not always dependent on the judicial system for the dispensation of justice as they themselves at times seem to be acting as judge, jury and executioner. While rumours and stories abound, there is at least one documented case of torture and death of MQM leader Farooq Sattar’s Coordinator in official custody. And the fact that no punishment has been announced even in this case, despite an investigation ordered by the army chief, we can safely assume that the system of investigation and sentencing is not all that efficient even within the agencies.

    Now as to why the airing of videos fails to mould the public opinion in the direction desired by the agencies, the reason could be that only selected portions of videos of chosen persons are aired, and people also know that subjected to the investigative methods of our agencies, which is mostly third-degree torture, the person in custody can be made to confess to just about anything.

    And on the subject of patriotism, one has to remember that extreme scarcity of intellect, integrity and foresight, and overabundance of ‘patriotism’ can lead to disastrous consequences. After all, the setting of assembly-lines to produce Mujahids on a massive scale in order to fight what was basically America’s revenge war with the Soviet Union was the ambitious project of some over-patriotic Generals, and was meant to give Pakistan strategic depth in Afghanistan, but see what it actually gave us – death of over sixty thousand Pakistanis and a loss exceeding hundred billion dollars to infra-structure. After all, if some wise one said “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” he would definitely have his reasons for saying so.

    KarachiRecommend