September 26, 2023

US Embassy in Islamabad apologises for Twitter gaffe: Sorry not sufficient, says PTI


ISLAMABAD – Staff Reporter:

The Embassy of the United States of America in Islamabad came under intense fire on Wednesday after its social media team committed a diplomatic faux pas by retweeting a statement criticising the Pakistani government.

The embassy later apologised and said its Twitter account “was accessed […] without authorisation.” Several Twitter users took strong exception to the US Embassy’s Twitter account retweeting a political statement made by the PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal.

Commenting on an article by the Washington Post titled ‘Trump’s defeat is a blow for the world’s demagogues and dictators’, Ahsan Iqbal had taken a swipe at Prime Minister Imran Khan and written on the micro-blogging website that “We have one (demagogue/dictator) in Pakistan too. He will be shown way out soon. Insha Allah!”

Shortly after, the US Embassy’s Twitter account retweeted Ahsan Iqbal’s statement, inviting a furious reaction and widespread condemnation from both Pakistani citizens as well as political figures.

Even though the embassy later deleted the tweet, Twitterati were quick to capture screenshots. Soon after, hashtags like #ApologiseUSEmbassy started trending on the micro-blogging platform.

On Wednesday afternoon, the mission clarified: “The US Embassy does not endorse theposting or retweeting of political messages. We apologise for any confusion that may have resulted from the unauthorised post.”

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari strongly condemned the incident. “US Embassy still working in Trumpian mode in support of convicted absconder & intervening brazenly in our internal politics!” she wrote on Twitter.

In response to the apology, Mazari rejected the explanation and that too after long delay, adding that it is “unacceptable” that someone working at the embassy is “pushing a particular political party’s agenda.”

Sindh Governor Imran Ismail wrote that it was “utterly absurd” of the embassy to endorse derogatory remarks about PM Imran Khan, terming the move “against diplomatic protocols.” While most people vehemently censured the US embassy on Twitter, others appealed to the Government of Pakistan to take action and demand that the foreign mission to issue an official apology.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill also took strong exception to the retweeting of political message by the US Embassy. “Embarrassing. The US embassy tweeting derogatory comments about sitting US President Mr Donald Trump and Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr Imran Khan. First time ever seen an embassy insulting its own lawful elected president. We expect some heads must roll. This is unacceptable!” he tweeted.

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