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Pakistan's biggest social media wins and fails in 2017

Did Mahira Khan and Malala make it or break it this year? Read our verdict
Updated Dec 15, 2017 12:47pm


Pakistanis share a love-hate relationship with social media.

One minute you're hailed a hero online and the next, you crash and burn. Vicious, we tell you. People will tear each other down any chance they get (it happens to the best of us, Mahira), but often times you get an opportunity to hit back (that was a nice clapback, Humaima... screenshot) and when you do, you get the Iron Throne - even if it's just for a split second.

This year's wins and fails topped last year's by a huge margin; while some basked in the limelight (rock on, Naseem Hameed), others got the boot (we're looking at you, Junaid Akram) but we've got our regular headliner Hamza Ali Abbasi in the mix and a few newcomers who certainly made 2017 more eventful.

Here are Pakistan's biggest social media wins and the fails of this year.

Win: When Atif Aslam called out harassers mid-concert

During Atif Aslam's concert at IBA earlier this year, the crowd went out of control and many women were harassed and molested. The singer stopped his concert mid-way, asked the young woman to be 'rescued,' then told the harasser to behave and respect women, otherwise he'll walk out.

Atif Aslam calls out harassers mid-concert, tells them to respect women

We have to give props to Atif for pointing out the harassment, but we wish he had gone one step further and instead of calling the woman who was harassed on stage, had rather called the harasser up - name and shame. This kind of conduct has a zero tolerance policy and should be treated as such.

Fail: When brands belittled Ayesha Gulalai's harassment allegations

Ayesha Gulalai's sexual harassment allegations against PTI chief Imran Khan were met with a heavy dose of victim blaming.

During the ongoing investigation of her allegations, fashion brand Fifth Avenue chose to market a t-shirt which read: "Lying is too mainstream so I Gula-lie". This message was a clear dig at the MNA. Though details of her case remain murky, that doesn't give us the right to play judge and jury. This act on the brand's part was regressive and perpetuates a mentality that makes light of a grave issue like sexual harassment.

A clothing brand is selling t-shirts making light of Gulalai's allegations. Here's why it's problematic

Unfortunately such occurrences are not uncommon. When Sharmeen tweeted about her sister's alleged harassment by a doctor, Cafe Liquiteria found reason to joke about it. No, it's not funny and no, you do not get to trivialise harassment.

Win: When this UN Women campaign exposed male entitlement

Pakistan's fastest woman Naseem Hameed has an impressive record time of 11.81 seconds for a 100 meter race and for some men that's a little hard to digest - because, well, the inflated male ego.

Men try to beat Naseem Hameed's running record in this video and fail miserably

When UN Women Pakistan approached men and asked them to beat Naseem's record as part of their #BeatMe campaign, the men's uppish attitude was one to applaud, their attempt, not so much. "Yes. I can do it. It's easy," one said. "I can do it in 10 seconds, or even 8", except that nobody came close to her record, let alone beat it.

The video is telling of how deep entitlement runs in Pakistani males — it runs so deep that they think they can outperform a female athlete with no training. Can we just say, in your face!

Naseem - 1, Men - 0

Fail: When Junaid Akram mansplained the purpose of an all-female secret Facebook group

First rule of an all-female secret group: you don't talk about the all-female secret group.

Unfortunately, Junaid Akram's unnamed female friend who's a part of secret group Soul Sisters breached the trust of all the women in it by showing him the group's conversations. Junaid Akram, on the other hand, felt the need to make a video mansplaining the activity on the group.

Here's a lil something for people who feel the need to school women: A group which aims to provide support for women, irrespective of how big or small their problems are, does not need a man to tell them how their group should or shouldn't function. If that platform provides women the freedom to be themselves and talk freely, then it is nobody's business to interfere. Period.

Win: When the entertainment fraternity came together in support of Mahira Khan

Mahira Khan's pictures with Ranbir Kapoor made headlines this year and Pakistan was traumatised. The dress, the cigarette and the Bollywood actor were too much too handle. 'How could our Khirad be this way?' thought many a pious local.

Luckily for her, the entertainment fraternity stepped forward to defend her, including local and Bollywood celebs.

Let these desi celebrities show you how to silence Mahira haters

Osman Khalid Butt imitated her picture with another friend and took a jibe at internet trolls; Hamza Ali Abbasi urged people to stop misconstruing information; Humaima Malick reminded everyone that celebs are also human; Ranbir Kapoor said in a statement, "It is very unfair the way she is being judged and spoken about," and urged people to "stop the negativity". Parineeti Chopra also stood up for the Pakistani actor and said it was "unfair", while Varun Dhawan said, "Shame on them for shaming her".

Like Mahira said in a recent interview, "I have such amazing fans, they got together... and they got out there and they fight for me. Sometimes I don't need to fight my battles, they do it."

Fail: When Hamza Ali Abbasi stood in defense of Imran Khan and Hafiz Saeed

Trust Hamza Ali Abbasi to stand up for IK any chance he gets. And when the PTI chairman's 'phateechar' comment about the international PSL players took social media by storm, he was the first in the line of defense.

How Hamza Ali Abbasi's video defending Imran Khan is painfully flawed

Sadly, his 11-minute video response was faulty at best; he was so obviously trying to blind side people and failed to make substantial points.

Funnily enough, the previous take down didn't have any effect on the actor and during the NA-120 by-elections, he tweeted in favour of the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief coming in third place.

Hamza Ali Abbasi praises Hafiz Saeed and people are very angry

Hamza only managed to irk and provoke fellow Pakistanis - which is nothing out of the ordinary, really.

Win: When Wahab Riaz and his wife's Twitter spar was #CoupleGoals

Isn't it adorable when a couple gets cutesy on social media? Case in point Wahab Riaz and his wife Zaynab Wahab during this year's PSL.

Wahab Riaz and his wife have a Twitter spat about which PSL team she should support

Supporting their respective city's teams, Zaynab was rooting for the Lahore Qalandars and her husband, who was also playing for his home team, was all for Peshawar Zalmi.

When Zaynab tweeted cheering for the Lahore Qalandars, the left-arm firebrand jokingly hinted at sending her back to her hometown if she didn't cheer for his team. Zaynab, not one to accept defeat, responded giving Wahab an ultimatum, "Make sure you win your last two games otherwise you have to fly back before me."

Cute.

Fail: When Amir and Faryal's unpleasant Twitter divorce made headlines

What's not cute? Announcing your decision to divorce your wife on Twitter and calling her a "gold digger".

The famous public mess which took place this August was nothing short of foul and ugly, dragging other people in the mix like fellow boxer Joshua Anthony.

Amir Khan and Faryal Makhdoom call it quits - on Twitter

The two only ended up mending the relationship after Faryal announced her pregnancy. Too much drama to handle for one year.

Also a fail: When Salman Ahmad's love song for IK made everyone recoil

Talking about relationships, here's an attempt ALL should avoid. Salman Ahmad made a declaration of love for PTI chairman Imran Khan via a six-minute music video, which he produced, wrote and performed. And it was cringe-worthy at best.

Basically an ode to Imran Khan's greatness, the music video displays a montage of images and video clips from Imran Khan's life over the years -- with frequent special appearances by none other than Salman Ahmad himself.

Please go watch it: The weirdest moments from Salman Ahmad's love letter to Imran Khan... or not.

Win: When Sharmeen Obaid clarified her tweet on harassment

Sharmeen Obaid came under fire when she tweeted about her sister being harassed by her doctor. However, her tweet came across as haughty and people called her out for it.

She then issued a statement on Twitter throwing light on what she truly meant to say. The Oscar winner admitted her words were "poorly chosen" and said that she regrets that the backlash against her has obscured the real issue: that of harassment of women and the abuse of a doctor-patient relationship.

My tweet wasn't meant to suggest privilege: Sharmeen Obaid breaks silence on harassment claim

The most important takeaway from her statement was that we must support women when they speak out against harassment instead of drowning out their voices.

Fail: When Maryam Nawaz tweeted victory at Nawaz Sharif's disqualification

In July, the Supreme Court's verdict against the now ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif had an effect on everyone - many were happy to see him step down while PML-N supporters were upset... except for his daughter Maryam Nawaz; who took the bow out as victory and remained unfazed.

She tweeted the likes of, "He will be unstoppable," "Stop him if you can", "Real men laugh when taking up the gauntlet," after the SC verdict...err...

We'll let the tweets do the talking:

Win: When an orator hit back at Sahir Lodhi for scolding her on national TV

This Ramazan, Sahir Lodhi man-terrupted a woman speaker on his show and proceeded to lambast her for insulting Jinnah in her speech on women's rights violations in Pakistan.

The worst part? Nothing Dr Saba Rizwan said in her speech could be construed as insulting to the Quaid. Social media erupted in outrage for Sahir's misbehaviour - but what was especially good to see was that Dr Saba got the last word.

Saba Rizwan is the surprise hero of Sahir Lodhi's Ramazan transmission

In a response video, she explained how the speech did not taunt Jinnah and gave a shout-out to those who understood her message better than Lodhi did.

"Sahir Lodhi apologised to me on his show, but he only apologised for his rough manner of speech, whereas he should have apologised for humiliating a woman on live TV. He should also have apologised for interrupting a debater in the middle of her speech such that her point could not be completed and he should also have apologised for misinterpreting my statements," she said.

Fail: When Pakistanis policed Malala for wearing jeans

Pakistanis use women as easy targets to vent cultural anxiety and that's exactly what happened when pictures of Malala in jeans and heeled boots made rounds on social media.

Unfortunately, Malala's independence, according to many Pakistanis, comes at the expense of the country’s reputation that rests on many things, including the need to conceal and exercise control over female bodies.

Relax, Malala's jeans aren't an assault on your national identity

If we look beyond the obvious societal dysfunction, such reactions speak of the larger cultural anxieties among Pakistanis that lead to violence against women all over the country. Nevertheless, Malala deserves applause for continuing to stand tall, above and beyond the country’s patriarchal mindset, wherever she goes.

Win: When Humaima Malick called out Momina Mustehsan for her 'double standards'

Momina Mustehsan's tweet in defense of Mahira Khan did not sit well with Humaima Malick.

The Coke Studio singer tweeted, "Jesus. Can we please give @TheMahiraKhan a break?! Why are we so quick to judge and attack?! Esp if it's a woman in question. It's her life!"

Humaima, as blunt and brutal as she is, quickly picked up on the tweet and clubbed it with Momina's earlier tweet on Qandeel Baloch in which she rejected all claims of QB being a sign of women's empowerment as she chose to use her body as an 'asset'.

The actor only had two words to describe the hypocrisy and she won the internet over.

In the Mortal Kombat world we like to say, FINISH HER.

Fail: When Rishi Kapoor reacted to Pakistan making it to the finals

Leading up to Pakistan and India's final match at the ICC Champions Trophy, Rishi Kapoor was super vocal on social media as he supported the Indian team and got a little carried away.

Rishi Kapoor was the target of some extra savage Pakistani humour last night

Unfortunately for him, during the match last night, when it was clear Pakistan was going to win... Pakistanis on Twitter made sure Kapoor heard from them

Win or Fail? When Sahir Lodhi berated critics who called his film 'low class'

Sahir Lodhi managed to keep us on edge this year with his many outbursts, but for once, he actually, kind of made sense.

In a video response to all the haters calling his film Rasta "cheap" and "low class", Sahir Lodhi clapped back and said, "I'm tired of this bridge. Pakistanis have been called 'cheap,' they have been told that they are sub-grade humans [if they watch my film]. So all my fans from Karachi to Peshawar are cheap? If you live on this side of the bridge? How dare you call Pakistanis cheap?"

Sahir Lodhi has a point and you may be missing it

He added, "Who gives you that right to differentiate? Who are you to decide that the people who go to Nueplex or the people who go to Bambino are any different?"

And you know what? He's right. Raasta may not have been everyone's cup of tea, but labelling people who went to watch the Sahir Lodhi starrer 'low-class' or 'cheap' doesn't do us any favours, it just expose how classist Pakistani society is.

Except, "Who gave you that right?" will always remain the best catchphrase of all time.


This article is part of Images' series '2017 In Review'. Stay tuned for more.