There is much social media comment on a story on gang rape that appeared on the back page of TFT last week. A more detailed but similar account of the same incident appeared in Daily Dawn of 5th Jan 2015 in the Metro Lahore section, along with an editorial on the subject.

The story in Dawn makes the following points:

  1. "The girl had visited the hotel on invitation from the suspect (Adnan) after permission from her family members ... she received a gift from Adnan".

  2. "The seven suspects arrested had nothing to do with the girl and they were likely to be cleared in a couple of days".

  3. "The DNA report revealed that the girl was not gang raped".

  4. "She was only (sic) sodomised by Adnan while semen samples of another unidentified suspect were also found on the victim's clothes".

TFT's report on the back page of last week's issue says much the same thing: that there was no gang rape according to DNA sampling; and that the girl went out with Adnan with the knowledge of her family. But the Dawn story adds that she was sodomised and there were traces of another person's semen on her clothes.

So clearly the real story is not a straightforward case of gang rape as also noted in TFT's story.  The full truth has yet to come out.

It is unfortunate that certain people have misread TFT's story to imply lack of sympathy for the girl despite the fact that it clearly says "Nonetheless, the girl is a minor and an offence has been committed". It may also be clarified that the back page column is frequently used to highlight pressing social issues which require  urgent redress precisely because it is so widely read.

We urge the police to get to the bottom of this story, identify the criminal offender(s) and prosecute them vigorously regardless of any connections with the ruling party.

We also appreciate and laud the concern shown by civil society in raising this issue.

But we are saddened by the unfounded allegations hurled at TFT and its editor by misguided or misinformed citizens however well-intentioned. There has been no discussion of this issue on TV by any TFT editor or staffer and no defence of any of the alleged culprits or their alleged patrons.

As the DAWN editorial noted on Jan 5: "There is surely a need for civil society to counter the urge to resort to the sensational through debate and popular consensus". To this we would add the quest to ascertain the truth before accusing someone or attributing motives to anyone. This applies to civil society as much as to the media.