Reacting to national chaos, Twitterati style


As events kept unfolding throughout the day, Facebook posts, blogs and Tweets played a strong role in deepening the general sense of uncertainty surrounding Pakistani national politics.
Reacting to Dr Tahirul Qadri’s first address early Tuesday morning, Pakistani Twitterati and Facebook community was busy posting news, speculations and predictions about what the impact of Qadri’s deadline would have on the government.
When Tahirul Qadri gave the 11am deadline to the government, Ziyad Faisal, an activist for the Awami Workers Party posted a Facebook status, “Allama sahib, I have just one question: you and what army?”
Similar tweets and Facebook posts were seen across social media filled with deeper suspicion that Tahirul Qadri was being backed by the “Establishment” and that he was the army’s new “poster child”. Qadri was also ridiculed by many for his style of speech.
However, there were those who expressed hope in Qadri being the catalyst for change in Pakistani politics. A PTI supporter, going by the name mE on Twitter wrote, “absolutely agree with a journalist on TV today: Qadri may not succeed in his own endeavors but may serve as a catalyst for change.”
Another avid Facebook activist posted, “Show us what you got Qadri! You have the whole nation on your back including women, men and children. Bring a change through long march!”
When news of arrest orders by the Supreme Court for Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf broke, Twitter and Facebook activists were in an uproar.
Some kept it humorous. Asad tweeted, “Sahir Lodhi for caretaker prime minister!” This tweet received at least 50 retweets and was “favorited” by dozens.
Twitter also saw a trending topic #RealRevolution where people mocked the general state of affairs in the country, not specifically the unfolding events on the news. One person tweeted “#RealRevolution will be when I stop hitting on girls.”
Similarly, Rida tweeted, “#RealRevolution will be when people start walking on escalators rather than standing.”
There were, however, serious topics trending as well. The news of Karachi Stock Exchange crash became a serious trending topic on all social media forums.
Kalim posted, “500 points loss at KSE means over Rs 700 crore wiped out. Imagine trading at KSE today!”
Asif wrote, “Given the state of the KSE and Pakistan at large, what say we move trading to twitter?”
However, there was also a general sense of alarm among activists and journalists posting online.
Ammar, an activist, posted a Facebook status saying, “This would not have been a major issue if it was only a matter of removing an incompetent and corrupt government. What we are witnessing is the ultimate triumph of the coercive apparatus of the state, which will only lead to an increase in the militarisation of society and the marginalisation of ordinary people in the long run.”
Prominent journalist, activist and human rights activist, Beena Sarwar, too questioned the coincidental link between all the events happening in Pakistan. She wrote, “I’m now wondering about the coincidental timing of the LoC incident, the Quetta blasts and TUQ ‘long march’. #Savedemocracy #Pakistan” This was retweeted 23 times and was favorited by at least half a dozen people.
This sense of emergency and alarm also led to online activists sharing safety tips to citizens in Karachi as the situation began to take a turn for the worse.
A blogger who blogs under the name NorBalm kept tweeting various small tips like, “Safety tips for #Karachi traffic right now: remove all jewelry, watches and keep safely in the car/vehicle out of sight and out of reach.” These safety tips were appreciated by people like prominent TV anchor Nasim Zehra who wrote to NorBalm, “Safety Tips…please tweet so we can retweet.”
She also blasted PTI’s seven demands and said, “PTI contradicts itself by rightly arguing only a constitutionally elected government has mandate to reform, yet dismissing constitution’s caretaker formula?”
The Supreme Court was also scrutinised.
Farrukh wrote, “CJ, sir, please issue arrest warrants of Arsalan Iftikhar too just now. And then I am with you. Charity begins at home.”
Gul also questioned the Supreme Court’s decision to issue arrest orders and said, “PM hasn’t been charged, tried or convicted. How did CJ order his arrest? Why? #Pakistan #GHQ”