Pakistanis fume over Yale student’s arrest for modelling even as ‘rapists go free’

A case of obscenity was filed against Zulfiqar Mannan for posing in front of Muhammad Ali Jinnah's portrait. Author Fatima Bhutto was among those who criticised the arrest.

Via Twitter

New Delhi: The arrest of a Yale University student in Pakistan has enraged celebrity authors and artists such as Fatima Bhutto and Meesha Shafi. His crime? He modelled for a photoshoot against the backdrop of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait.

A case of obscenity was filed against Zulfiqar Mannan and another model for posing in front of a portrait of ‘Quaid-e-Azam’ Jinnah on the Islamabad Expressway.

Photos of Mannan standing next to Pakistani policemen drew criticism on social media.

Islamabad Additional SP of Operations Farhat Kazmi, however, told Dawn Mannan had not been arrested and had arrived at a police station in Islamabad to offer his assistance with the case and the police took a photograph for their own records.

Along with another model, Mannan stood in front of the portrait of Jinnah bare-chested wearing a blue dress, as he tried various poses.

People in Pakistan expressed anger over the case filed against the duo and questioned a person’s right to express themselves. Many also drew comparison with how not a single person from the crowd of about 400 men who attacked a woman and filmed the harassment had yet been arrested.

Not everyone was this open-minded. One person called the photoshoot “vulgar” and said that it mocked people’s faith.

It has been reported that the case was filed on the complaint of one Rashid Malik on 4 August. And the FIR stated that Mannan and his friend had taken pictures in revealing dresses in front of a portrait of Jinnah and made the photos go viral.

Also read: In Pakistan, posing with Jinnah lands two musicians in trouble. Authorities looking for them

Shame on police, Islamabad police useless

Furious, Pakistani author Fatima Bhutto took to Twitter to criticise the arrest.

“Shame on the police, arresting this young man for what? For a photo where he dressed up? No one was hurt. He harmed no one. On Aug 14, 400 men attacked a woman and filmed themselves terrorizing her. They filmed themselves because they knew it’s no crime to attack a girl.”

People called out the state of freedom of expression in Pakistan and questioned exactly what was the crime committed by Zulfiqar and his friend. One user called the Islamabad Police “useless”.

Questioning the action, Pakistani poet and actor Meesha Shafi wondered if the Qaid-E-Azam himself would have a problem with Zulfiqar’s photos.

Speaking about Mannan, one user said that he had always fought for a more tolerant Pakistan and came back from his higher studies to enrol in Teach for Pakistan programme.

“Even their lyrics were love letters to pakistan, and this is how pakistan treats them?” said the user.

Mannan is an English major at Yale University in the United States and also part of the Yale Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights. In 2018, he was among those who protested outside Ali Zafar’s concert after he was accused of sexually harassing a woman.

(Edited by Prashant Dixit)