E-mailing poem: Bahria University student arrested for 'threatening' staffers

Published: April 8, 2012
Screenshot of Arsalan Bilal.

Screenshot of Arsalan Bilal.

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad police on Sunday arrested Arsalan Bilal, a student of Bahria University who had gone on a hunger strike for an indefinite period of time from April 6, Friday, in front of the university campus in order to protest his rustication.

Bilal was taken to Margalla Police Station around 10am today morning, where police officials say that they brought him for “his own safety” as they feared that he might do something “hazardous” to himself.

No case has yet been registered against him.

Bahria University had reportedly expelled Bilal for threatening staff members by forwarding a ‘poem’ by famous Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, which he also forwarded to his friend circle in the same e-mail thread.

The university had also declared Arsalan Bilal “psychologically unstable”.

Speaking to The Express Tribune Bilal said that the police officials have “confined him and are not letting him protest for his rights.”

He said that he has been detained in a room at the police station and the police officers are not letting him go, while his family still remains unaware of his arrest.

“I will continue to protest till my death,” said Bilal who objected to his arrest which was made “without any warrant.”

I was protesting to get my 14 demands fulfilled by the university administration, when in the morning today, a sub-inspector came and arrested me outside the university premises.”

Bilal also alleged that some officials from Pakistan Navy contacted him, trying to “pressurise” him.

“A person, who identified himself as Irfan and claimed to be an official of the Pakistan Navy called me and told me to end my hunger strike. I told him to come and meet me outside the university, where I was staging a hunger strike.”

He further added, “Some unnamed officials from intelligence agencies came and took my pictures from a digital camera.”

Bilal who also runs Insight News – Bahria University, a Facebook page dedicated to news related to the institution, had also questioned the role of ex-naval officials and certain faculty members policies in the university.

He had been discouraged in pursuing his undergraduate research in politicisation of religion in Pakistan and had reportedly faced discrimination as he belongs to a minority sect.

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Reader Comments (64)

  • ALi
    Apr 8, 2012 - 12:46PM

    Well the boy doesnt seem psychologically unstable after reading his demands, rather sounds the opposite.


  • Shireen Khan
    Apr 8, 2012 - 1:22PM

    This young boy seems to have ruffled some feathers and should be set free…he probably discovered some unsavoury truths considering the subject of his paper.Recommend

  • confused
    Apr 8, 2012 - 1:25PM

    Yes. these seem consistent with the standards of most modern universities. I wonder if Bahria University is opposed to them on principle or because of this one person


  • Riaz Khan
    Apr 8, 2012 - 1:35PM

    He is a Hero! I commend him for his courage. In civilized societies he would have been appreciated whereas in Pakistan he is considered his mentally unstable. Way to go my countrymen!


  • observer
    Apr 8, 2012 - 1:44PM

    Well, SSP and LeJ types walk free, while one gets arrested for quoting Faiz?

    Truth indeed is stranger than fiction.


  • Zabandraz
    Apr 8, 2012 - 1:51PM

    His demands are those of any stable and normal person but definitely it will be otherwise for unstable and abnormal people running the affairs of the University


  • M Ali Khan
    Apr 8, 2012 - 1:52PM

    All the best Arsalan. Fight the power!


  • MA
    Apr 8, 2012 - 2:00PM

    We need to get rid of wahabis influences from out military if they are to ever act normally


  • Mj
    Apr 8, 2012 - 2:04PM

    Armymen have no idea how to tolerate dissent and freethinking, which is why they have no business inside institutions of higher learning where freedom of free thought is of paramount importance. More power to Mr. Bilal.


  • Javed
    Apr 8, 2012 - 2:06PM

    Join SSP or JUD and nobody will touch you. They will even come up with statements in your support like they are doing for Hafiz Saeed.Recommend

  • menteliscio
    Apr 8, 2012 - 2:06PM

    lol is behria even a university?


  • gp65
    Apr 8, 2012 - 2:23PM

    This man quotes Faiz and is considered unstable . People like Zaid Hamid who talk about Ghazwa-e-Hind are not only considered mentally stable but lionized.

    This man goes believes in non-violent protest and goes on hunger strike to make his point so he is arrested without a warrant. Hafiz Saeed threatens jihad and is defended by not just ordinary hoi polloi but also the top elite of the political class.
    This man raises questions about politicisation of religion and is rusticated.

    Oh moderate Pakistanis, why are you allowing your country to be hijacked like this?Recommend

  • Another Victim
    Apr 8, 2012 - 2:25PM

    Don’t back off bravo. Revolutionists are always confronted and given different names


  • Anonymous.
    Apr 8, 2012 - 2:29PM

    Alright. I understand some of the demands are very rational but few are totally unreasonable.

    … Points 4 & 5 are highly unjust. It’s an institute established by military and they have every right to install their own people in the management. Retired military officers, like any other retired civilian also have every right to work until 60. When an army officer retires after serving 29/30 years in forces, he is usually 53/54, and young enough to work until he reaches superannuation age. It is very unfair to demand not to let them work.

    … I am a full time faculty member in a private university in Karachi, where I have colleagues and Deans who are 75+ and still working, halting growth and blocking opportunities for young people like me. No one criticizes their aristocracy. Why? Because they are from us, the civilians?

    … Point 13 – Abolish dress code? Seriously? You shouldn’t have joined this university if you had such absurd issues. Trust me not everything needs to be criticized just for the heck of it. So many institutes, offices, and organizations have very strict dress codes, and these codes are there to discipline you better.

    … Point 14. What’s the issue with offering discounts to children of naval officers? Since Bahria University is established by Navy, they’ll respect the association and will facilitate the officers’ wards.
    … @ Arrest – what do you think, you go harassing faculty and university won’t provide them protection? Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Apr 8, 2012 - 2:33PM

    What do you mean by minority sect? Recommend

  • Apr 8, 2012 - 2:46PM

    Purge the university of pseudo intellectuals? Really!


  • wahab
    Apr 8, 2012 - 3:00PM

    lets support him in whatever way we can!


  • TruthNFacts
    Apr 8, 2012 - 3:24PM

    First of all, I congratulate Bilal for his courageous stand against the odds. I wish him all the best for his struggle. Secondly, I do not understand why we segregate our fellow Pakistanis by labeling them as minority. It sounds like we are talking about aliens from another planet, aren’t we? Bilal and others who share different faiths and belong to a different ethnic groups are no less Pakistani as others. Please stop labeling Pakistani citizens.


  • Haider A.
    Apr 8, 2012 - 3:28PM

    Military in Pakistan ruins everything it touches.Recommend

  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos
    Apr 8, 2012 - 3:34PM

    I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry on whats going on in Bahria University.


  • Useit
    Apr 8, 2012 - 3:48PM

    Doesn’t look to be psycollogically unstable. This guy has a revolutionary future ahead.


  • Whats in the name.
    Apr 8, 2012 - 4:15PM

    If he is sincere in his satyagraha, (fasting for justice) then he will surely succeed, No force can stop him. After all truth is the most powerful tool in the world.


  • Riaz Khan
    Apr 8, 2012 - 4:20PM

    Hang in there the people of Pakistan support you! We Love You!


  • Shah
    Apr 8, 2012 - 4:20PM

    Today is comfirmed tht are media has no brains at all. I know this comment will never make out.

    He is removed from the place because of his own safety. He has declared himself openly. IF any fanatic kills him. Who will take the responsibility.

    Secondly no military person threatened him. Every one told him to go to court and file a case.He himself misbehaved in front of HOD of a department and couldnt finish his work.

    Shame on tribune for not looking into the matter and posting without investigating. Just shame.


  • Born Political
    Apr 8, 2012 - 5:41PM

    In such cases, we must understand all circumstances before declaring any party THE HERO.

    I have read his demands and while some demands are spot on, others seem bit too much.

    I have not seen public hearing of Disciplinary committee cases even in LUMS or FAST. Interrogation cannot always be held publicly.

    Military officers to go away from University? Did he check this while getting admission? Everyone knows military institutions are run partially by their people.

    In short, he must complaint about specific issues not going well, rather than coming up with 14 point agenda to be followed at any cost.


  • ouch
    Apr 8, 2012 - 5:49PM

    another of those armed forces basher rated hero without even looking critically at his 14 demands and above all the poem he sent and its context… but hey what the heck, who cares if he’s right or wrong, he’s bashing armed forces, the popular sport in Pakistan these days…


  • Umer
    Apr 8, 2012 - 6:47PM

    The university had also declared
    Arsalan Bilal “psychologically

    He must be psychologically unstable to be a minority and still expecting his rights.

    What was he thinking?


  • Rubinah
    Apr 8, 2012 - 7:04PM

    Too true Umer – perhaps he should just have used their suggestions box.
    How come its generally minorities that do exceptionally well intellectually in Pakistan? This guy is shows all the signs of having had a first class education – ie demanding answers, seeking improvements and yet hes incarcerated by that same educational establishment as being deranged and driven to a hunger strike for challenging the status quo. Not the greatest marketing exercise for a university. Dare I hope that change is afoot in Pakistan? Would others join him or not wish to align themselves with a ‘minority’?


  • Sonya
    Apr 8, 2012 - 7:09PM

    @ouch: They have made themselves a laughing lot. I am afraid poor arsenal has raised some of the issues bigger than his size!


  • Umer
    Apr 8, 2012 - 7:12PM


    he’s bashing armed forces, the popular
    sport in Pakistan these days…

    Has army done any good lately that we missed?


  • meher
    Apr 8, 2012 - 7:37PM

    I think he should have gone through the university prospectus before joining Bahria University to have a know how of rules and regulation.


  • Umer
    Apr 8, 2012 - 7:47PM


    Points 4 & 5 are highly unjust. It’s
    an institute established by military
    and they have every right to install
    their own people in the management.
    Retired military officers,

    Military and Navy is run buy the public money and public gives the money to military for defence not for creating elitist enclaves for themselves and their children; to the exclusion of the very public who pays for it. This is colonial mindset and a misuse of public funds. Military officers already get much better perks (plots etc) than civilians during their military service; they don’t need to be treated like royalty for the rest of their lives. This colonial and military elitist mentality needs to be done with.


  • Salman Arshad
    Apr 8, 2012 - 7:56PM

    The army doesn’t respect civilians who are peaceful. They respect only Hafiz Syed types.
    And you can’t blame them. They are themselves warriors.


  • ouch
    Apr 8, 2012 - 7:58PM

    tell me any good thing politicians have done so far apart from bringing more and more misery to the poor Pakistanis…


  • ouch
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:01PM

    @Umer: how about the civilian run institutions and their performances. lets see how efficiently they’re utilizing the PUBLIC money.. PIA? Steel Mills? Railways? KESC? PEPCO? etc. etc.


  • Mir
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:05PM

    No more Military Incorporation in Pakistan, Army should go back to barracks.


  • Blithe
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:11PM

    Shocking attitude of the university!

    Is this how you treat talent in academia???


  • Pollack
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:11PM

    This incident is a symptom of that. This is one student who is really patriotic and is worried about his countrys state. So as a good citizen, he writes a paper on a something which he feels is the real issue, like politicization of religion in Pakistan. For his efforts, he is rewarded with the title “psychologically unstable” by his own university!

    This is the definition of an Orwellian society

    “”Orwellian” describes the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free society. It connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the “unperson” — a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practiced by modern repressive governments. Often, this includes the circumstances depicted in his novels, particularly Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

    Does it ring a bell for anyone here?Recommend

  • kaalchakra
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:50PM

    I am sorry to say that this person forgot the importance of being a team player. Deen teaches us the importance of unity and discipline over all else. Any problems should be discussed with the leaders.

    I hope the sternest action is taken against him.Recommend

  • amer nadeem
    Apr 8, 2012 - 8:57PM

    Arslan sent this poem to his friends & the staff, see it;
    Nisar teri galiyo pe ae watan kay jahan,
    Chali hai Rasm kay koi na sarr utha kay chalay.
    Jo Koi Chahnay Wala Tawaaf ko Niklay,
    Nazar Jhuka kay Chalay, Jism o Jaan Bacha Kay Chalay.
    (My salutations to thy sacred streets, O beloved nation!
    Where a tradition has been invented- that none shall walk with his head held high,
    If at all one takes a walk, a pilgrimage,
    One must walk, eyes lowered, the body crouched in fear)

    he be dealt like a student with passionate & fatherly by the University admn rather a criminal…


  • Non Partisan
    Apr 8, 2012 - 9:19PM

    As usual they have ham handled a very ordinary case of an ego-centric student and provided him the publicity he craved for, at their own expense. This is typical of universities run by the forces, Remember the shenanigans of the NUML management?
    I do believe they have a department of Student Affairs at Bahria University. Is that too headed by a retired Navy Seal?


  • Ali imran
    Apr 8, 2012 - 9:38PM

    please also write the disputed poem so that every one comes to know what is wrong written by the poet


  • Hasan Malik
    Apr 8, 2012 - 10:10PM

    The actual reason is that he belong from a minority sect in Pakistan and in fact many students are happy that he have been expelled as they are of the VIew that only registered Muslims have the right to study in Pakistan and minorities have no right to get education in Pakistan. Also how dare he to speak against role of Army in Our Institutes as he should know that this country is made for Elite, Opportunists and for Pakistani Army and not the other way around.


  • Arsalan Khan
    Apr 8, 2012 - 10:13PM

    If the civilians do not go to such universities based on class system, they automatically collapse. Its the exorbirant fees charged from civilians which sustain such military “universities”.


  • truth-atlast
    Apr 8, 2012 - 11:33PM

    hate pak navy for not taking action against the teachers they hired who were supposed to support the up coming talent not mentally harass them


  • truth-atlast
    Apr 8, 2012 - 11:35PM

    tell u what this guy can do wonders for u so shake hands with him and think of the greater good take him to work with u not against u


  • HQ
    Apr 8, 2012 - 11:37PM

    think of your ownself going through it..this is unfair
    he ought to be given what he wants with a full appology for mis treating him in the first place


  • anonymous
    Apr 8, 2012 - 11:41PM

    HUNGER STRIKE?SERIOUSLY?? go home and eat up u need ur strength to fight with these wicked ppl
    i fully support u


  • anonymous
    Apr 8, 2012 - 11:46PM

    give him his degree and let the matter go
    all evidence shows the university did wrong,,must appologize for this outrageous decision
    i assure u if supreme court is going to take a notice,all the ppl involved are going to regret it badly
    GO BILAL we fully support u


  • Aamer Khawaja
    Apr 8, 2012 - 11:49PM

    PIA,Steel Mills, PEPCO are government run, not civilian run, infact- PIA, Steel Mills, KESC were under army control, especially in the case of KESC army ruined the entire institution. Only after getting privatized i.e. civilian control has KESC made progress. Examples of civilian run organizations are those that are private institutions.


  • Sajid
    Apr 8, 2012 - 11:51PM
  • anonymous
    Apr 8, 2012 - 11:58PM

    ,,be stable,,dont let the army ppl mess u up
    i dont think they will let u continue this hunger strike for long take legal notice against them this is going to be fruitfull this will put the uni under load of pressure go for it let them know what is it like to be treated like an outcast


  • anonymous
    Apr 9, 2012 - 12:05AM

    a poem leading to rustication and then arrest??honestly this is funny
    this guy seems stable enough to be able to come this far someone with in the uni needs a psychiatrist probably
    the dean out to be fired first


  • Usman786
    Apr 9, 2012 - 12:34AM

    pl donot involve religion in any debate like this …they ve rights…….surprisingly v look down on minorities and want mem of our boys


  • jock
    Apr 9, 2012 - 1:15AM

    Lucky for the kid that he quoted Faiz…Had he quoted Jalib, that would have been the last we heard of him.


  • Sonya
    Apr 9, 2012 - 10:22AM

    @ouch: In fact we have just appointed AVM retired Mr Rao the new MD PIA for his meritorious service as airforce chief. The brain drain is happening at a much faster speed than anticipated. The country is for the armed forces serving and the retired.


  • Syed
    Apr 9, 2012 - 10:36AM

    Brave act but 14 points are not fabricated enough. These points must have been scrutinized with respect to maturity in addressing common objectives rather any personal retaliation e.g Quaid-e-Azam 14 points..

    Further why are people bringing Hafiz Saeed in between.. those pin pointing him are demonstrating themselves as indians or anti-pakistan.. So becareful !! He is our Hero.. Comparing Arsal Bilal with Hafiz Saeed exhibits the intellectual and level of ignorance of the people here.


  • Ajju
    Apr 9, 2012 - 1:58PM

    The bottom line is nothing Can be done of the military ! If Arslan had so many problems then he should’ve went to some private university , Bahria university is ranked amongst the top universities of Islamabad run by the same management ! 14 points ? No wonder everyone thinks himself as mohommad Ali Jinnah and believing too much in revolution ! Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Apr 9, 2012 - 4:05PM

    Presence of discipline and lack of political interventions make institutions under control of Armed Forces superior and successfull. Best example of this case is comparison of Gordon College Rawalpindi and F G Sir Syed College Rawalpindi. Lax discipline ruined a historical Gordon college while F G Sir Syed progressed due to freedom from political interventions and maintenance of discipline.

    Performance of educational institutions under Armed Forces is mucg superior than institutions under civil or government control.

    I am a civilian but truth is truth.

    All persons should give due weightage to performance of these institutions. A drama by single student just to get his degree should be analysed and be decided on merits.


  • Shah Pak
    Apr 9, 2012 - 6:42PM


    which evidence shows tht. Evidence from Tribune. Let me laugh for a second.

    He misbehaved with a HOD. Couldnt finish his assignment. CIVIL people in the univerity religated him.
    He has declared himself openly. If some fanatic kills him, who will take the responsibilty.
    IF he has guts he should go and file a case simple.


  • Sonya
    Apr 9, 2012 - 11:57PM

    Even among the three forces Pakistan Navy is ranked at the bottom. Living closer to them in Islamabad I always wonder what this force has to do in the Margalla hills, aren’t they supposed to stay near the sea?


  • papoo piplia
    Apr 14, 2012 - 7:04AM

    /Performance of educational institutions under Armed Forces is mucg superior than institutions under civil or government control./

    Are you kidding? the best institutes in Pakistan are all civilian run.

    Dow, Aga Khan, IBA, LUMS, GIK, NED, Karachi university, Indus valley, NCA.


  • Tony C.
    Apr 15, 2012 - 9:31PM

    I am not really certain about all the facts involved with Arsalan Bilal, but my experience at university is that senior personnel were dictatorial and in spite of their arguing to the contrary they were not really interested in students determining the truth in several areas such as history, politics, and many aspects of medicine and science due to religious, political and commercial pressures. This young man has my sympathy, but he will lose.


  • Ali Raza
    Apr 30, 2012 - 10:56PM

    Bahria university is not a any institute its just like a Military academy where treat to every body just like a Military academy

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