With nearly four days having passed since polls closed in the United States, Umar expressed the irony of the American election turning out to be as rancorous as a Pakistani contest in a post on Twitter.
“We used to see in our youth that an election takes places in the US; votes are counted, the loser congratulates the winner and the transition of power takes place. We used to think when will things play out like this in Pakistan? That still hasn’t happened to date, but Pakistani scenes were definitely visible in the American election,” he wrote.
By “Pakistani scenes”, the minister was apparently referring to US President Donald Trump making baseless allegations of fraud in the 2020 election, refusing to acknowledge Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s lead in numerous states and mounting legal challenges against the vote count.
Providing no evidence to support his allegations and in a break from US presidential norms, Trump on Thursday erupted in a tirade of unsubstantiated claims that he had been cheated out of winning the election as vote counting across battleground states showed Biden steadily closing in on victory.
The political drama that has now dragged on into the weekend in the US, the nation considered one of the world’s most emblematic democracies, has been watched with irony by many around the world — especially in countries that have long been advised by Washington on how to run elections.
But when Umar expressed similar sentiments on Saturday, Pakistani social media users were quick to remind him that the PTI had refused to go quietly after losing the 2013 general elections to the PML-N
“Yes, your friend set an example for the rest of the world on his container,” academic Nida Kirmani said while replying to the minister’s tweet, referring to the 126-day sit-in led by PTI chief (now Prime Minister) Imran Khan.
In August 2014, Imran Khan had started a long march from Lahore to Islamabad to stage a sit-in to register the party’s protest against alleged rigging in the 2013 elections. The protest march was also joined by the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) led by Dr Tahirul Qadri.
After reaching Islamabad, the protesters announced that they would remain at D-Chowk for an indefinite period till the acceptance of their demands. The sit-in that had been started with a demand of probe into the charges of rigging was later converted into a full-fledged anti-government movement and the PTI announced that they would not end the sit-in till the ouster of the PML-N government.
The sit-in continued for 126 days and the PTI chief announced the end of the protest a day after the terrorist attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar.
Journalist Abbas Nasir while responding to Umar said only “Trump’s container is awaited” — a reference to Imran Khan delivering anti-government speeches from atop a container during the 2014 sit-in.
Journalist Matiulla Jan asked the minister whether by “Pakistani scenes” he was alluding to “2014 D-Chowk dharna scenes”.
In response to Umar, one user sarcastically wrote that the US too was witnessing “tabdeeli” (change) — the famed election slogan of the PTI.