Do Pakistanis have a white saviour complex? A stand-up comedian tries to find out with a fake Twitter account

By Shaoor Munir on
January 27, 2019
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Shehzad Ghias, a Pakistani lawyer and stand-up comedian, has taken veils off of an attempt to expose Pakistani user’s tendency to believe anything they read online, as long as it appears to be coming from a foreign source.

In an alleged social experiment/troll that ran for about a week, Shehzad Ghias created a fake account with an alias of Samantha A. Gerry, A US couchsurfer who planned on visiting India and Pakistan in 2019. With a twitter profile picture which appeared to be borrowed by a stock image available online, it seems that anyone should really have gotten onto the actual intention behind the creation of the fake account in no time at all.

Alas, it appears that an easy formula to gain Pakistanis trust online is to tweet in favor of Pakistan and bash Indians; something which “Samantha” did without any hesitation.

Turned out a lot of people started believing her and bashing other accounts, most notably a few journalists and social media influencers who tried to call a spade a spade.

TBH, some people did not fall for this prank. Most notably, Osman Khalid Butt, a popular actor, and director was quick to point out that something was fishy with this whole episode, something which Samantha (or as we now know, Shehzad) used quickly to further aggravate and pander to nationalistic sentiments:

Unfortunately, a few seasoned journalists and social media figures fell for the ruse too, handing out congratulatory messages for her decision to come to Pakistan and showcase the country’s positive image to rest of the world.

There are a lot of messages in support of Samantha AKA Shehzad on her twitter account, raising questions about how much do people research or question something before believing it to be true.

Seemed like this shtick might go on for a while (Samantha claimed that she would land in Pakistan on June 14th), but it appears that Shehzad finally got bored of all this and he finally revealed the true intention behind creating this account in a series of tweets on his real twitter account:

He did raise some good questions while calling quits on this week-long prank. Here are some questions that he wants everyone to think about:

  1. Why was I quick to blame the journalists for being paid agents?
  2. On the flip side, why was I convinced ISPR was behind an account as dumb as this?
  3. Why did I retweet her/create the account what it became?
  4. Do I even verify anything before believing it?
  5. Does it seem more believable coming from a white face?
  6. Why do we wait for messiahs, especially white messiahs?
  7. Is our patriotism being exploited to make dumb people heroes?

Due diligence should be our second nature these days

Fake news, fake Twitter accounts, Fake rumors; the online media landscape seems to be brimming with fake content these days. And traversing that landscape requires due diligence to be our second nature. As we have discussed previously in an article about identifying and preventing fake news, it is our responsibility to play our part correctly while sharing and retweeting stuff that we see online.

Everything that shines isn’t gold

And every white person with a social media account praising Pakistan is not our long sought after friend and savior. Due to the worsening international image, Pakistanis have fallen into a habit of taking everything that any foreign individual says about us more seriously than anything a local person says. Prime Minister Imran Khan actually learned about this a few weeks ago when he had to tweet about this mindset after his infamous chicken and egg policy to improve the financial condition of underprivileged citizens.

We need to understand that nationality, complexion, and economic status are not a correct representation of the validity of a person’s argument, we need to keep those aside while judging arguments online. We must stop making every foreign individual into a celebrity when they mention Pakistan even in a fleeting sentence.

Shehzad’s experiment was nice while it lasted, and it could probably have been carried on for a little while more, accumulating a larger sample size for the observations that he was trying to deduce, but it does signify a few points that we, as a nation who is looking to evolve and transform our country into a more civilized and developed one than it is today, need to sincerely work on.

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