ISLAMABAD - The United States Embassy in Pakistan drew strong backlash Wednesday for retweeting a political statement critical of the host government, prompting the diplomatic mission to apologize for what it said was an "unauthorized post."
The controversy stemmed from comments on Tuesday tweeted by an opposition lawmaker, Ahsan Iqbal, along with a screenshot of an American media article titled "Trump's defeat is a blow for the world's demagogues and dictators."
Iqbal went on to say in a veiled reference to Prime Minister Imran Khan: "We have one in Pakistan too. He will be shown way out soon. Insha Allah (God willing)."?
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 U.S. Embassy, through its official Twitter account, retweeted Iqbal's remarks, angering top government officials and other Pakistanis on social media. They demanded the post be swiftly removed and an apology be submitted.
The diplomatic mission said in a statement Wednesday that its Twitter account was "accessed" without authorization and it had deleted the post in question.?
"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," the embassy said 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
However, Pakistani Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari rejected the U.S. statement as insufficient.?
"This not good enough esp after great delay! Account was clearly not hacked so someone who had access to it used it "without authorization". Unacceptable that someone working in US Embassy pushing a particular political party's agenda - has serious consequences including staff visas scrutiny," Mazari tweeted.??
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
Imran Ismail, a senior ruling party leader and governor of Pakistan's southern Sindh province also denounced the U.S. Embassy for retweeting what he said were "derogatory" and "utterly absurd" remarks against Prime Minister Khan.
"This is against diplomatic protocols. An apology is needed with immediate clarification if fake or hacked," Ismail said and asked the Pakistani Foreign Ministry to take "required action" against the U.S. mission.??
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