Dear Humans Of Pakistan, don’t make up fake stories, please!

Published: August 27, 2015

I contacted HOP and asked them to take down the whole post, their response to which was that whether the story is real or not, they will not take down the post.

One week after Humans Of New York (HONY) completed their series on Pakistan, Humans Of Pakistan (HOP) published a photograph of a woman named Sarah* sitting with her two young boys.

As per Sarah’s narrative, her husband had left for a job offer abroad, two years after their marriage while she was expecting her first child. He left them for five years and came to see her and the children only twice, that even on her insistence. Eventually, Sarah learnt that her husband had remarried and no longer intended to come back or financially support her or their children. Hence, she decided to stand against this injustice by filing for a divorce and finding a job for herself in order to support her children.

The aim of this post was to send a message to all the women in similar situations to stand up for their rights and not be silent in the face of physical and emotional abuse.

As expected, the story touched the hearts of the thousands of followers of the page and many applauded her strength. I personally also salute this lady for her courage  and absolutely agree with her message.

However, things took a turn when a few questions were raised on how the story and picture were irreconcilable. The story claimed that Sarah’s husband had not visited her for years but her picture showed her carrying a new born baby. Sarah’s response to these accusations was that HOP reworded her story and that the picture is old.

This was followed by Sarah’s bhabhi’s (brother’s wife/sister-in-law) friend, Sana’s post, where she questioned the irony of Sarah advocating for women’s rights when she herself was party to a similar case, the victim of which was Sarah’s sister-in-law herself. Sana went on to claim that Sarah’s brother physically abused his wife and how come Sarah didn’t take a stand against such injustice then?

One would think that this is where it ends, but were proved wrong when another character surfaced, Sarah’s ex-husband in question. He comes forward, although through someone else’s Facebook profile, and claims that the story is far from the truth as he is financially supporting both the children – something which Sarah herself admitted, but complained that the amount wasn’t sufficient. He further goes on to state that he hadn’t met her all these years because his Sarah kept nurturing unreasonable demands.

All in all, the comments became nastier every second, and created a debacle. HOP then stepped in and deleted all the negative comments and blocked some people from further commenting.

I personally contacted HOP and asked them to take down the whole post, their response to which was that whether the story is real or not, they will not take down the post as it “is as important as any other story”. I reasoned with them that they might be propagating false information, to which HOP stated that they would happily feature the story of the other side as well. Although, this is a very small social media feud, it raises a plethora of really important questions.

If the story is more important than the very humans in those stories, then why do we have issues when Ayyan Ali comes to Karachi University? Why do we have a problem when Veena Malik runs a program for redemption? Don’t social media activists or journalists need to carry out extensive research before presenting news to the public? Why is there a need to sensationalise stories and incidents? And most importantly, will HOP revise its policy and admit that they overlooked some important information or didn’t even bother to fact-check the details?

The question isn’t restricted to the woman in the photograph any more. I am really apologetic that her personal life was dissected on a public forum like this. But the question here is about the credibility of this page, along with many other such pages. Does this mean we will always need Brandon Stanton to expose the real and true accounts from Pakistan?

These pages have a huge impact on people from across the globe. They represent the true face of Pakistan and this cannot be done on the basis of forged narratives for the sake of likes, shares, comments or ratings. These pages represent humans that are real, therefore the stories have to be real, the effort has to be real, the policies need to be real and the content definitely needs to be real.

*Names have been changed to protect identities 

Amal S

Amal S

A Communication design student who aspires to be a photojournalist.

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

  • KwJ

    So one story is disputed and you go on to say ‘fake stories’ and get all worked up to write a blog about it. If HONY has a disputed story, I doubt the reaction would have been so knee-jerk. Kindly get out of the inferiority complex. Its just a story that has become controversial but there are many others which are true and have important life lessons. Take it easy and relax.Recommend

  • Maverick_NZ

    Agree. Is it Cynic hour already?Recommend

  • shah

    obviously someone is spending way too much time on Facebook.Recommend

  • wb

    Pathological liars. Everywhere Pakistani just lie, lie and lie and get enraged when the world doesn’t believe their lies.Recommend

  • Religious Rights

    After skimming through the article I’ve come to one conclusion, that be it HOP or so called social and human rights activists in Pakistan, politicians, street beggars, security officials, civil servants, judiciary and lawyers they all lack honesty, integrity, self respect thus norms and morals at its lowest ebb.Recommend

  • M. Shahbaz Khan

    In fact, it’s a lie to call it a fake story. The story is real but has many aspects, which played out on HOP pages. The only thing that HOP should not have done was to intervene. And the only thing you shouldn’t have done was to call it fake. Otherwise your write up would have been an interesting read.Recommend

  • hello

    take aways from this saga.

    1. The official response of HOP should have been better. of course they cannot guarantee that the story they post is true or not but if the story published is not true then they need to get up and do the needful. Especially if it is exposed in this clear manner.

    2. Ladies, before posting your personal drama on facebook make sure that you dont have skeletons in your cupboard. Look into yourself first before pointing fingers at others.Recommend

  • Ahmad, Zubaid

    Stop getting angry over a story you don’t know nothing about. Mind your own business!Recommend

  • Jayman

    “Humans of Pakistan”? Now, there is a misnomer.Recommend

  • Gurion

    Who’s surprised? Water car, war on terror, wikileaks and even the claim of Arab DNA are fake in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Sohail Ahmad

    Social Media credibility is questionable – a country where mainstream media sensationalize each and every moment finding of real story is hard but not impossible.Recommend

  • Guest

    Take aways from this saga.

    1. HOP’s official reply should have been slightly better. Of course they cannot guarantee that every story that reaches them is true or not that is why instead of posting stories sent by people, go and look for inspirational people and post their stories.

    2. Personal stories like these should only be posted if your cupboard is not full of skeletons. Social Media is like a MOB, you dont know how they will react.Recommend

  • Ahmad, Zubaid

    What do Indians have, monkeys of India?Recommend

  • SuperNeo™

    But Dear you can’t deny …Life of Pakistanis are full of Conspiracy theories only.and every failure is handy work of some one else actRecommend

  • SuperNeo™

    Is blogging is HALAL ? according per Pakistanis ?Recommend

  • lathee charge

    You are absolutely right; they inherited this curious habit from their Indian bretheren. The only difference is that a Pakistani would lie with his/her hand on the heart while invoking God’s name to inculcate a sense of trust in the lieee.Recommend

  • lathee charge

    Liar, liar, pants on fire !Recommend

  • sana

    OMG it is like another star plus drama!Recommend

  • muhammad abbas ahmed

    this is surely not the real or actual face of Pakistan. actual may be different. but this not entirely a bad idea as what it does is only highlight the positive side of Pakistan. which is exactly opposite and excatly the same of what the media is doing, what media is doing is, highlighting the negative side of pakistan.
    both (media and HOM) are telling the truth.
    such tou such hai, per andaaz-e-bayan hai apna apnaRecommend

  • loyalindian

    Trolling much?Recommend

  • loyalindian

    Yes. And it is perfectly vegetarian too.Recommend

  • loyalindian

    Humans of NY, Humans of Pakistan, Humans of Karachi, Humans of Iran, Humans of India, Humans of this and that and all so much other. Why do we have to toe to one trend and abuse it so much that in the end it becomes repulsive.Recommend

  • Guest

    I agree. Both sides seem grieved.Recommend

  • edejidje

    It is one story today. Can be more tomorrow. Better HOP learns today to be careful in future.Recommend

  • Bubloo

    Oh Please.. dont turn it into Pak- India war. Recommend

  • Vap

    I can understand your pain wb but keep trolling.Recommend

  • abhi

    You missed the larger issue here. The name of the page should be Muslims of Pakistan. By calling the page as Human of Pakistan they are trying to subvert the muslims identity of Pakistan which should not be tolerated.Recommend

  • Surprised

    it was published on social media. Everyone’s business Recommend

  • Muhammad Adnan Shahid

    Sorry to say, I could not understand the purpose of this blog???Recommend

  • Bubloo

    The blogger highlights that HOP published a story without verification which is still acceptable but to see its careless response when it can be seen clearly the story is not what it portrays to be. Recommend

  • Guest

    Please check what Richard A Clarke(former National Coordinator for Security, USA) said about Pakistanis.Recommend

  • Guest

    Are you Indian? Let alone loyal.Recommend

  • dirtylaundry

    Hahaha! this is hilarious and yet sad. By seeing the posts from the family members and such strong words of the other party it is not hard to see that this woman is a not what she is trying to portray herself to be. hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy .. but how well such drama sells in Pakistan is unbelievable. People will always side one party without even knowing the whole truth. I see people commenting against her husband where she is somewhat also responsible… Self pity sells! I feel sorry for her.Recommend

  • Vap

    Do i need to remind you what Chuck Hagel said about India? Or what Aussies are saying about Indian?Recommend