An innocent, over-interpreted Tweet that was!

Exaggeration and over-interpretation are national pastimes in Pakistan. In older days, and older English, older folks would say: “Making a mountain out of a molehill” to snub an unwarranted exaggeration. In newer times, new custodians of constitutional reasoning, say: That’s an awful Tweet!

ISPR’s 29th April Tweet, retracted earlier today, was one of the many routine things which got inflated out of proportion and attracted more attention than was intended. It neither implied veiled nor naked threat; nor did it imply any flouting of any Constitutional decorum.

First, people were bamboozled with the shooting of the Tweet, now they are flabbergasted with its retraction. These two states of being are nothing but a result of imbalanced mentality.

On the initial reactions, I thought people confused awesome with awful for poor English that’s pervasive in Pakistan. Then I guessed it was misplaced attempt at brevity that Twitter impels. In the Kingdom of Tweetistan, shorter words get preferred over longer ones and communication becomes a casualty. When I saw everyone harping on the same string, I felt for the poor string, and decided to explain the benign reasons behind this maligned Tweet, and its retraction.

Before I count the positive pleasures of honest few-liners by ISPR, and then the follow-up few liners that settled the dust of any civil-military discord for ever, let me share a testimony of the transformative impact. I had stayed from Twitter all these years. I believed Twitter instilled ISI in us. Don’t jump the gun; this ISI is not our dear invincible sensitive agency that our enemies are after due to jealousy. My ISI is Inflated Self Importance – and anybody who gets on Twitter, is infected by it.

Back to my transformative tale. Not that I didn’t have peculiar Pakistani, Male, Punjabi, Muslim Presumptive Self-importance, and didn’t want to flaunt it on Twitter. I did. But I didn’t have the proverbial pull-factor. Then, one day my stars were auspicious, inner awakening by outer incident occurred, and the ignorant saw the light. The ISPR Tweet was that catalyst. My stint of revelling in dark ages and dusky spaces beyond Tweetistan ended. I’m indebted to ISPR for that.

You guessed it. The first thing I did was to follow ISPR. I tell you, however inadequate or RAW-Pakistani you may be, if you follow ISPR, you’re a certified and true patriot. Patriotism is not believing Pakistan is the best country, and giving our best to it; its following ISPR on Twitter!

Our virtual following of ISPR is manifestation of actual trust in the wisdom of Generals, their time tested righteousness, and evidence of which is the true institution in Pakistan. We testify that soldiers are never wrong, and the Generals are always right; particularly when in office.

Just before disclosing the story that will show us why we ought to relax, take ISPR’s this and future tweets easy, and carry on calmly, I must reject two aspersions as politely as ISPR did the PMO’s notification. I heard nay-sayers say this tweet was meant to keep media attention away from OBL anniversary; and that, every April Army twists the arm of civilians to remind no evil eye dare to spell cut in the defence budget. Its cock and bull story, and a fabrication like Dawn Leaks. April or no April, budget or deficit, such tweets would happen when such notifications are issued, be it an Eid or the New Year’s Eve!

The real story is simple with three bits. As you open Twitter, it greets you thus: Tweet anytime. There are many ways to create a tweet, from a simple “hello” to an awesome GIF. Give your followers something to talk about, General! Tell me, if you were a general, won’t you tweet to give the followers something to talk about, after such seductive and inviting call to action?

Two, most of the hyper-activists have not worked in the government and don’t know a bit about how different departments correspond. There is something called ‘draft for discussion’, which is shared with the boss, and after feedback, its revised or discarded. If the matter were urgent, we would confabulate on phone; now, ISPR tried it on twitter. Simple, done.

But the real, real bit is this: We Punjabis first articulate anything in this best language on earth that’s most suited for elaborative-reductionism, then transliterate in English. Our PM, COAS and this scribe are Punjabis. We know how to culturally code and decode our frank affection, which may appear uncouth to outsiders. Have you not seen two Punjabis calling names to sisters and mothers and still hugging joyously? In so called civil speech, ISPR’s Tweet only implored the PM: ‘Sir, please retract the notification’; and, PM quietly retorted, ‘this time you do’. That’s it.

Arshed Bhatti

Arshed Bhatti

Arshed Bhatti is a typical Pakistani who operates at very high level of confidence with extremely low level of knowledge. Being true Muslim he believes the real life is in the hereafter and urges countrymen to take it easy, and enjoy the talk shows. He writes songs, satire and fake non-fiction. He tweets @CivilJunction