On Wednesday, the US embassy in Islamabad apologised for retweeting a “unauthorised” message about PML-N chief Ahsan Iqbal ‘s premier after it sparked uproar on social media.
“Last night, without authorization, the US embassy Islamabad Twitter account was accessed. The US embassy does not support the publishing or retweeting of political tweets. We apologise for any misunderstanding that could have emerged from the unauthorised post,” said the embassy on its Twitter account.
Dear Followers: The U.S. Embassy Islamabad Twitter account was accessed last night without authorization. The U.S. Embassy does not endorse the posting or retweeting of political messages. We apologize for any confusion that may have resulted from the unauthorized post.
— U.S. Embassy Islamabad (@usembislamabad) November 11, 2020
“The entire saga began after Iqbal shared a screenshot of a Washington Post report titled” Trump’s downfall is a blow to the demagogues and rulers of the planet “on the social networking site on Tuesday.
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“In Pakistan, too, we have one. The way out will soon be seen,” Iqbal said in his tweet, in what was an clear reference to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
We have one in Pakistan too. He will be shown way out soon. Insha Allah! pic.twitter.com/i1qOil7jvf
— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) November 10, 2020
The sharing of Iqbal ‘s tweet by the Twitter handle of the US embassy immediately triggered uproar, as government leaders, including a federal minister and the governor of Sindh, called on the embassy to uphold diplomatic values and make an apology.
On Wednesday, the hashtag # ApologiseUSembassy began circulating on Twitter as well.
“The U.S. embassy is now operating in Trumpian style to help the accused absconder and to participate brazenly in our domestic politics,” Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said before an apology was released by the embassy.
“The Monroe doctrine expired years ago, too! The U.S. Embassy must meet diplomatic principles,” she added.
The Minister has shared her disappointment with the US Embassy’s apology.
“The account was obviously not compromised so that it was accessed” without authorization “by anyone who had access to it. It is unfair that anyone working in the US embassy is promoting the cause of a certain political party,” she said.
This not good enough esp after great delay! Account was clearly not hacked so someone who had access to it used it "without authorisation". Unacceptable that someone working in US Embassy pushing a particular pol party's agenda – has serious consequences incl staff visas scrutiny https://t.co/IWqYtRjVna
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) November 11, 2020
The Foreign Office was advised by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail to take action against the embassy.
“This is absolutely ridiculous, how can the US embassy retweet anything against our premier involving negative remarks? This is against diplomatic procedures. Whether false or compromised, an apology is required with urgent explanation,” he stated.
This is utterly absurd, how can u @usembislamabad retweet against our PM @ImranKhanPTI containing derogatory remarks?This is against diplomatic protocols. An apology is needed with immediate clarification if fake or hacked. @ForeignOfficePk must take required action. pic.twitter.com/2BoVmrdVp8
— Imran Ismail (@ImranIsmailPTI) November 11, 2020
Global Communication Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shahbaz Gill said it was the first time an embassy was seen to “insult” its own constitutionally elected president. “We expect it would be appropriate to roll some heads. This is unacceptable!” he said.
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! https://t.co/LQxQ2UlYZ2
— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@SHABAZGIL) November 11, 2020
Azhar Mashwani, the Punjab chief minister ‘s new media focal point, asked whether this would be how US embassies would act for the next two and a half months under State Secretary Mike Pompeo.
. @SecPompeo your staff in @usembislamabad thinks that President @realDonaldTrump is a Dictator? This is how US Embassies under you will behave for next 2 and half months?#ApologiseUSembassy pic.twitter.com/fvAHDnpadz
— Azhar Mashwani (@MashwaniAzhar) November 11, 2020
Imran Ghazali, head of the New Media Wing of PTI, also called for an apology for the “embarrassing and insensitive tweet” from the account of the US embassy.
— Imran Ghazali (@ImranGhazaliPK) November 11, 2020
“Dr. Arsalan Khalid, Focal Person of Prime Minister on Digital Media, said strategic accounts are” extremely sensitive digital properties “and any error” should be publicly corrected.
The strategic Twitter accs are very sensitive digital assets and any mistake from it should be rectified publically. @usembislamabad should immediately explain wht happened with their Twitter account last night as Pakistanis are not happy over their retweet which they undid later
— Dr Arslan Khalid (@arslankhalid_m) November 11, 2020