I don’t normally like to publicise my personal life on social media but unfortunately what should’ve been a private tragedy has become a public spectacle and for this reason I feel that certain things need to be publicised in order for the world to know the truth.
My father, Dr. Zafar-Arif, died on Sunday the 14th of January of what all evidence points to as being a heart attack. The media is portraying his death as a brutal murder and some are, disgracefully, putting up photoshopped images of his body (and heavily edited videos – yes, videos can be edited, technology is amazing) on social media with claims that he was tortured. I don’t think I need to point out how disrespectful this is towards his memory and his family, not to mention dishonest and unethical. Certain people are trying to exploit his death for their own political agenda, while others are, out of a sense of love and admiration for him, trying to seek justice for what they believe to be a crime.
I never thought I would have to speak in such detail about my own father’s death, but the circumstances have left me no choice. We his family examined his body thoroughly as soon as we were brought on the scene, and we have been shown pictures of his body taken by the police immediately once they discovered it. There is not a single mark on him, and no indication whatsoever that he was tortured or that his death was unnatural. The few spots of blood under his nose are not suspicious – I’ve been told that after death the body does not clot blood properly and so nosebleeds are common. The circumstances under which he was found are not as dramatic or suspicious as the media wishes you to believe – he was missing for one night, his car was found in an area he was known to frequent, and his mobile phones were likely stolen through the rolled down windows of the car by members of the general public who were on the scene when the police arrived. The post-mortem report is not yet out, we are waiting on it, and until then, we have no real reason to believe it was anything but a heart attack.
I hope those who read this understand that I of all people would be the last to cover up the truth about my father’s death. I only want the public to know the facts rather than believing lies, propaganda and exaggeration. Unless the post-mortem report says otherwise, we must believe, based on all the evidence and my own account as a first-hand witness, that it was a natural death.
I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the disrespectful manner in which his body was treated. It was taken to JPMC where it was left outside in an open ambulance for reporters to take pictures and make videos of, which they then went on to post on social media. Shame on the JPMC staff and police for not putting a stop to this, and shame above all on the media for their lack of respect and common human decency and empathy. They also did not hesitate to photograph and film his family when we arrived on the scene, and at the graveyard when we buried him.
Please feel free to share this and I urge those who cared about him to exercise common sense and rationality over the next coming days, and not to jump to conclusions until the evidence calls for it. I also urge you all to stop sharing fabricated or inaccurate reports, to stop posting images of my father’s body and to take down those that have already been posted – and, though it should go without saying, to not send these to his family or harass us any further in this difficult time. I am grateful to those who are sharing and posting commemorative accounts of his life and work with dignity and respect.
My father was not a victim, and I do not want him to be remembered as such. I will not allow his legacy to be based on lies. He belonged not only to me, but also to the people of Pakistan, whom he fought so hard for throughout his life.
EDIT: In light of some of the comments I’ve been getting on this post, two more things: firstly, the reason my father was in the backseat of his car may well have been because he had a tendency to stop during long drives to rest in the backseat, or because he was experiencing some discomfort or tiredness. His heart medicine was found next to him. This is our best guess unless proven otherwise, but only God can know for sure.
Secondly, neither my family nor I have been ‘pressured’ to make any kind of statement. Anyone who knows how hard I’ve fought for my father in the past would know that I would never succumb to such pressure and that I would fight for justice at whatever cost. In any case, it’s naive to think (and gives me far more importance than I’m due) that anyone who wished to cover up his death would believe that one woman’s statement could stop people from believing what they want to believe.
From Facebook Wall of Shehrazade Zafar-Arif