Outrage and condemnations directed against the administration of one of Pakistan’s most prestigious public universities made waves late on Tuesday, when the university’s official Twitter account responded to reports of an alleged incident of rape on campus.

“What kind of person makes fabricated rape accusations?” began the tweets of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), in what has since become a viral thread that highlights the insensitivity with which one of the country’s most esteemed universities has dealt with a matter as grave as rape. Calling it a “deceitful accusation” and a “complete hoax”, the university went on to say that “propagating” this allegation was the “most horrendous and shameless of acts”. 

The bizarrely phrased statement has been condemned by feminist groups, including the Women’s Democratic Front. Ismat Shahjahan, who is affiliated with the group, wrote: “We at (the Women’s Democratic Front) strongly condemn the irresponsible and criminally negligent statement of NUST. It must be retracted.”

She went on to demand that an ombudsman create an independent inquiry committee, referring to legal regulations when allegations of sexual misconduct are made on campuses. 

Some reports suggest that the actual incident of rape may have taken place in September. Its resurfacing has, apparently, much to do with students of the university itself discovering that a rape allegation was made within campus.

Former bureaucrat Salman Sufi wrote: “It is about time we treat defamation or coercing of a rape or assault as a serious crime.” He also said that a crime as serious as rape could not possibly be left as a closed discussion just through a series of tweets.

Sufi, in collaboration with advocate Mustafa Ramday, is moving the Islamabad High Court to compel legal authorities to initiate an independent investigation that addresses the allegation of rape more seriously.

Former students, who have not been quoted here, criticized the administration’s emphasis on the policing of women. NUST is among those universities in the country that has, for particular schools, attempted enforcing policies of dress codes that fined students for wearing jeans. University-wide, female students living in the hostels are forced to adhere to a 9:30PM curfew. Male students allegedly have no curfew whatsoever.

Allegedly, the university is at present threatening students who have leaked information around the case to social media.