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The web TV channel owner shows to the media his office that was reduced to ashes some four days ago.—Fahim Siddiqi/ White Star
The web TV channel owner shows to the media his office that was reduced to ashes some four days ago.—Fahim Siddiqi/ White Star

KARACHI: The owner of a web TV channel, whose office was damaged in a fire that broke out under ‘mysterious’ circumstances on Monday, believed it was an ‘arson attack’ and said on Thursday that he had been receiving threats for “the past six months”.

Situated in a congested lane of a predominantly Christian neighbourhood in Akhter Colony’s C-Sector, the web TV office is set up on the first floor of a four-storey building with a Catholic church, St Peter’s Church, standing right across it.

Sarfaraz William, the web TV owner, was the first one to be informed by the Mehmoodabad police personnel when the fire broke out in its office between 2:30am and 3am on Monday.

Standing near a pile of burnt copies of the holy books in the three-room apartment, Mr William spoke about the threats he had been receiving since May.

Illuminated by one of the remaining studio lights, the owner explained the routine office work saying: “What we do over here is very simple. We hold Christian congregations and speak about God, followed by a sermon and the usual geet (songs). The sermon of the day is then uploaded on our website that reaches hundreds of other people. It was in May when we started receiving threats from some religious organisations to close down our office or to face consequences.”

Threat, police complaint

The threat was followed by a complaint by the same organisation at the Mehmoodabad police station against “increasing tableegh by members of different religious groups”. The police officers, according to Mr William, did not take any action but it “forced us to be cautious”.

Working from the same neighbourhood for the past seven years, the office of is funded by the Gawahi Welfare Organisation, also owned by Mr William. Giving a tour of the three-room office, which was dark and filled with the smell of burnt plastic, Mr William pointed towards the missing database of the destroyed computers in the editing room.

Pointing to the walls which remained unharmed in the fire, he said that only some of the things caught fire “which makes me believe that it was a case of arson and not short-circuit as was previously mentioned in the fire department’s initial inquiry report.”

The fire brigade, which came to the rescue on a call of the Mehmoodabad police station at around 4am on Monday, in its initial inquiry reportedly stated that the fire was caused by ‘a short-circuit’.

But when Chief Fire Officer Tehseen Ahmad Siddiqi was asked about it, he denied it. He said: “The inquiry report lying in front of me states that the cause of fire could not be ascertained.”

According to a recent department policy, he explained, “the fire department is not allowed to state the cause of a fire until they are 100 per cent sure of it.

“And in this case, when the fire fighters reached the building most of the things inside the office had already been destroyed. So there was not much left to ascertain the cause of the fire.”

On their part, Mr William and his team made sure to lodge an FIR on Thursday and were waiting for the police officers to complete the investigation. “The police have been very accommodative and cooperative for the past four days. For now, we are waiting to see what becomes of the investigation,” said Mr William.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2015

Comments (18) Closed

NORI Nov 27, 2015 08:52am

It's time Pakistanis stop taking moral high ground and delivering sermons when it comes to incidents in neighboring countries. For Indian incidents, Modi was blamed and in Pakistan, would some one blame PM Sharif or Gen.Sharif ?

Philosopher (from Japan) Nov 27, 2015 09:05am


The cynic Nov 27, 2015 09:15am

Intolerance !

N K Ali Nov 27, 2015 09:24am

Very, very sad! When will we learn to tolerate other people's point of view? Salams

Village Simpleton Nov 27, 2015 10:37am

And we lecture others on intolerance..

no comments Nov 27, 2015 10:41am

is their any extent of this extremism?

John Nov 27, 2015 10:42am

My heartfelt condolanes to all minorities in Pakistan...

S.Khan Nov 27, 2015 11:29am

When the concerned people informed the police about the threats they were receiving then the police should have taken some steps for their security. But it seems police is so busy in other matters that it does not have time to take any step to provide security to a common citizen. We have no words to condemn those devils are responsible of this vicious attack

ManMohan(India) Nov 27, 2015 12:20pm

Rising Intolerance in PAKISTAN

max Nov 27, 2015 01:12pm

one sided story, I know the area, it is impossible for someone climb on first floor set fire to place and leave without anyone noticing, no locks were broken, only prove the story is based on is walls did not catch fire.(walls catch fire only if the fire crosses certain threshold and it is not necessary that every fire should catch walls)

King Nov 27, 2015 01:15pm

How tolerant is Pakistan

indian Nov 27, 2015 03:08pm

Now which shareef should be blamed for this. Cont...Modi bashing in pak media but noone discussing this act of intolrence on ahmedis n christian. One statement can cause uproar in pakistan and they start lecturing india bcoz its suits ur agenda.but how convienetly they r blind to whats happening in thr backyard.

vinay Nov 27, 2015 03:18pm

Intolerence!! stop lecturing india pay attention to what happens in your own backyard blame shareef for it if you have guts

dipak Nov 27, 2015 03:19pm

no place for minorities and if exist, they have to be ready at any time any where for the result. from 45% to less then 2%. accept the fact pl.

tauqeer Nov 27, 2015 03:54pm

Please don,t go for a premature statement before the Police instigation

max Nov 27, 2015 04:34pm

@dipak Please do not say that we killed 45 % of our population to make it 2%. Yar Kum Choro

Zulfiqar Nov 27, 2015 07:39pm

This incident is the real example of how much Pakistan is Tolerant country for Minorities..

Bin Adam Nov 28, 2015 12:53am

The Federal and Provincial Govt must have provided round the clock fully loaded and sufficient security personnel to this Christians TV Station keeping in view the threads from religious extremists and hate criminals or even from the evil elements who by torching this Christian Outlet may have motive of defaming the Govt. The Government should compensate the total loss or build a standard TV Station for them and give exemplary punishment to those who may be responsible for the arson. Hindu, Sikh, Christians and other minorities are our beloved and equally respectable Country men and deserve the security more than others if they have been threatened by extremists or other criminals.