PTI’s citizen journalism: From the Sharifs and Junaid Safdar, to Reham Khan and Sahir Rehman

Published: August 9, 2018

I disagree with Reham’s views on many things, but this has to be done through discourse and a healthy debate instead of abuse and bullying. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

The advent of social media and access to smartphones dawned an era of citizen journalism. Anybody can make a video through their mobile phones and upload it on social media to inform the world about an event. We have seen such examples during the Arab Spring, when citizens uploaded pictures and videos of the atrocities committed against them. Students in Bangladesh are also currently using the power of social media and user generated content to update the world on their protest against traffic laws, and the government’s high handedness with them. 

As with anything else, citizen journalism has its pros and cons. Pakistanis have started on the wrong footing of this trend. Prior to elections, videos and pictures were going viral of protests and hooliganism outside the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Avenfield apartments. The Sharif family had to face abuse and instigation every time they stepped out of the house. It reached a limit when Maryam Nawaz’s son, Junaid Safdar, was involved in a physical brawl with someone who allegedly abused his mother.

No surprises then that this time a video has surfaced of Reham Khan and her son, Sahir Khan, facing such nonsense by a woman in a London park, while they were recording for an interview.

Reham Khan again giving an interview to India media in a Park .

Posted by Malik Shahbaz Ahmed on Monday, August 6, 2018

Reham and Sahir show complete composure and grace while handling the troll as Reham tries to reason with her before exiting the public place. The woman, who I will call a troll, clearly seemed to be a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporter due to her line of questioning and what she is heard saying in the video.

Any son would have lost his cool, just as Safdar did in the previous scenario, if his mother was being bullied the way Reham was. But Sahir kept his cool and was even reprimanded by Reham when he answered the woman back after continuous instigation. He himself admitted this when I asked his views on the incident.

“My mother is very particular about restraint, especially towards females. She even reprimanded me for replying to the lady. But in the end, you can only laugh at the craziness on display.”

Sahir also feels his family has had to face such harassment for years now, even before Reham’s book came out.

“It seems that anyone who is seen as a threat to PTI is pre-emptively targeted and then harassed for life. In this case, we had a woman following us around and filming non-stop, while we were conducting an interview in a public place. Then she began to harass and intervene. Speaking against the leader of PTI is not allowed. Anyone who does so will be silenced through harassment and intimidation, since legal means would result in humiliation.”

I personally do not allege that all PTI supporters and leaders condone this fascist mentality. However, the trend does seem to point in that direction. This is evident on social media, where any TV anchor that does not agree to PTI’s policies is abused by some supporters of PTI. Even a cursory glance at Reham and Sahir’s own Twitter feed will prove the same. Even CNN anchor Hannah Vaughan Jones, who interviewed Reham, was not safe from the vitriol.

Perhaps one could tolerate the fascist behaviour and intolerance on social media but the culture of transferring this behaviour in the real world is disturbing and dangerous. Many celebrated when people resorted to hooliganism outside the Avenfield apartments and when a shoe was thrown at Nawaz. Similarly, they continue to applaud now when Reham and her son are bullied in a public place. This runs the risk of encouraging others to do the same and becomes a dangerously slippery slope.

One can disagree with another, and I disagree with Reham’s views on many things, but this has to be done through discourse and a healthy debate instead of abuse and bullying.

PTI has a larger responsibility to encourage a more inclusive environment and healthy debate, whilst discouraging such acts of bullying because the party itself started this culture of intolerance by calling their political rivals ‘motu gang’ (thus also fat-shaming).

Otherwise, more people will start echoing Sahir’s thoughts when he says,

“In addition to being a party built on intolerance, incompetence and corruption, PTI is now establishing itself as one that actively encourages abuse, harassment and misogyny. It’s sad to think that this is the future of Pakistan.”

Even a murderer deserves their fundamental human right to individual dignity. Let us be more tolerant in Naya Pakistan and learn to disagree with respect and civility, regardless of how wrong we believe someone to be. Let us use the power of citizen journalism in more positive ways instead of trolling public faces we disagree with.


Sabeer Lodhi

The author is studying at Monash University, Melbourne. He is a student and supporter of human rights with a focus on gender equality, minority rights and feminism. He tweets as @sabeerlodhi (

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

  • Anis creator

    its better to be polite within comments no abuse please whatever you feel or you think towards what you read .its the best rule.Recommend

  • naz fatima

    Its very common in western countries where people troll each other be it famous or not but is pinching more when its becoming a freedom voice in Muslim countries , this is cheap ideology …Recommend

  • Asghar Hassan

    The title says it all. It should have been “citizen journalism” not “PTIs citizen journalism”.
    It is interesting to see how all those who have an issue with Imran khan conveniently make everything PTI’s fault.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    cnn and indian media who gave reham coverage should have researched what she is saying is miles away form the truth, social media is not always right and to be honest its no more about right or wrong its about showing ppl what is going on, this lady who captured the video correctly pointed out y reham choose a corner for the interview to indian documentary.. reham is a loser and she lost her place in banigala, she has lost her self respect and now she will lose everything she has .. she tried and IK won elections, she accused him gulalaie accused him and he won the elections .. u know y ? IT WAS MEANT TO BERecommend

  • Mohinder sandhu

    I must commend reham khan for her patience and how she dealt with troll with complete cool.Pakistanis are terribly brain washed, this troll who is speaking in english accent (which tells she is brought up in UK) and yet she shows hatred for india and and has no patience to listen to reham. Most people born and brought up in western world do not know much about india pakistan history and do not nurse any hatredRecommend

  • Malik Iftikhar Ahmed

    Would you ever condemn the act of one who just throw filth on someone with some particular ambitions. What about Raham Khan Book. if someone is writing like this then one has to face who so ever is…..If you talk about freedom of speech and media that does not mean only Reham has right to express her view freely, opponents should have rights to express their view….its simple. we should all have to enjoy the fruits of new technologyRecommend

  • Sheraz Khalid

    These pseudo liberals will make issue of anything in which word “Imran Khan”or “PTI” is existent.Recommend

  • Mohammad khan

    Indian media is deaf,dumb and blind it has marketed Reham because she is Christine Keeler of Pakistan sponsored by Nawaz Sharif the Godfather of eastRecommend

  • InsanityWithin

    And the OP is an explicit example of PMLN’s citizen journalism. There I also used my right to express myself, deal with it.Recommend

  • Gandhi Jinnah

    It seems strange the Muslims like the citizen journalism in the USA against Trump and his team but do not like it in Pakistan. What a contradiction.Recommend