A video was recently shared on Twitter that caught our eye not for its content — that was rather unremarkable — but the response to it. A journalist posted a video of Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and his wife dancing at a family wedding with a catty caption. He didn't get the response he clearly wanted as people from across the internet started bashing him.
"The late General Umar's son Asad Umar," wrote journalist Shafi Naqi Jamie in a Twitter post, sharing an old video of the minister and his wife dancing at their son's wedding in 2019. Most people had one of two reactions to the video — let him dance and this is a breach of privacy.
Sharing someone's personal videos without their permission is indeed a breach of their privacy. For that reason, we won't be sharing the video either. The only feedback we do have is Asad Umar could brush up on his dancing skills and pick up a few new moves. In the video he and his wife happily dance to a catchy Abrar ul Haq song.
The response to the video was immense and likely not what the journalist anticipated. Most if not all people who commented on the video rightfully said there was nothing wrong with Umar dancing with his wife at a family event.
Now you would assume that most of the people defending the minister were PTI supporters, but that wasn't the case. Even people who are usually critical of Umar's politics were ready to defend his personal life — as they should.
When it comes to politicians, we firmly believe in one thing — as long as they aren't hurting anyone, leave their families and personal lives out of it. Whether Umar danced at his son's wedding is rather irrelevant to any discussion we could and should be having. Let's discuss his performance as a minister, not his performance as a dancer.
Go after politicians for what they say, their performance as publicly elected representatives, the bills and laws they support or their political manifestos, not their personal lives. Despite living in the public eye, these people are entitled to private lives as much as anyone else and don't deserve to have videos of themselves and their families broadcast on social media for public consumption.
It's rather difficult to understand what the journalist found so objectionable in the video. Was it the fact that Umar was dancing with his wife? Or that he was dancing (if you can call hopping around dancing) at all? It's not like the video is new — it's at least two years old.
As someone pointed out on Twitter, seeing videos of politicians celebrating with their families doesn't villanise them — they humanise them. Seeing Umar dancing with his wife, celebrating his son's marriage doesn't taint him in any way, it reminds us that he too is a husband, a father, someone who feels great joy at celebrating his son's happiness. These are private, intimate moments that the public isn't privy to and sometimes we feel that it's a shame that politicians hide this side of themselves.
There are politicians and office holders in other countries who gladly share moments from their personal lives to help humanise themselves in the eyes of the public — we feel the same joy, sadness and anger as you do, these moments say. 'We are more than just people sitting behind desks and making statements and decisions about your future.'
However, we definitely understand why Pakistani politicians try to keep their personal lives out of the public eye. Why would they want to subject themselves and their families to that? When people make snide comments on Twitter about innocent videos of you dancing with your wife at your child's wedding that someone else posted, who knows what they'll say or do when you post a video or picture yourself?
If there's one good thing that has come of this, it's that the public rose to the politician's defence. We hope people keep this energy when another politician's privacy is invaded, even if they aren't from a political party they support. We're all for calling out politicians for doing something wrong, but as a society, we need to remember that politicians are humans too and they're entitled to privacy just as much as we are.