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Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Reckless Tweets by PM Shehbaz Damages Pakistan’s Image

Shehbaz Sharif's recent tweet, equating his political opponent Imran Khan to Joseph Goebbels, has sparked widespread criticism and raised concerns about the judgment and responsibility of Pakistan's figurehead. The false comparison to the chief propagandist of the German Nazi Party not only downplays the horrors of the Holocaust but also offends those who suffered during World War II.

Shehbaz Sharif, who replaced Imran Khan (IK) as Prime Minister after April 2022’s post-modern coup, tweeted on Wednesday that his political opponent’s recent post on that platform is equivalent to Joseph Goebbels’ propaganda. In his words, “If there is someone who deserves the title of modern-day Joseph Goebbels, chief propagandist for the German Nazi Party, is none other than Imran Khan. He is certainly perfecting the art of lying.” This false comparison should get the person who writes his tweets fired.

For starters, IK’s recent words didn’t lead to the genocide of millions like Goebbels’ lies did, and to imply otherwise downplays that role of the latter’s propaganda in fueling the Nazis’ war crimes. This makes Sharif’s tweet very offensive to those whose families suffered during World War II. It can also be interpreted as whitewashing the Holocaust too after recklessly claiming that a tweet is equivalent to Goebbels’ incitement of that infamous genocide.

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IK and his team’s repeated claims that their replacements are Nazis aren’t on the same level as Sharif’s tweet either since he’s the face of nuclear power while they’re just his opposition. This figurehead is therefore obligated to be more responsible with his words since everything that he says is an official representative of state policy. Sharif’s tweet, therefore, shows the world that Pakistan has stooped to the point of alleging that its most popular politician is a Nazi, which makes the country look very bad.

Prior to last year’s regime change, this South Asian state had tried to present a positive image of itself to the international community, but whatever successes it might have achieved were all for nothing after its figurehead just compared his political opponent to a Nazi. Nobody takes such claims seriously, especially whenever they’re made by the face of a country about a member of the opposition. Even worse, Sharif might have just unintentionally offended his country’s Chinese ally too.

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After all, President Xi previously hosted IK, who’s now accused of being a Nazi with genocidal intentions and supposedly no different than Goebbels. This makes it seem like the Chinese leader was in cahoots with a wannabe war criminal, which isn’t true but this false narrative could potentially be picked up by his enemies to discredit the People’s Republic. Whoever wrote Sharif’s inflammatory tweet clearly wasn’t thinking about how it could be interpreted abroad and was focused solely on partisan politics.

This observation raises concerns about the criteria for this prestigious position since there’s no doubt that the person that’s presently occupying it should never have been there in the first place. Pakistan’s powerful military-intelligence structures presumably had the final say on who got this job, which makes one wonder why they selected the incumbent after they just dealt such tremendous harm to the country’s soft power through Sharif’s latest tweet that they wrote for him.

That person needs to be fired right away and replaced with someone much more competent. In addition, Sharif should edit out his comparison of IK to Goebbels or delete his tweet and repost it without that false equivalence if he’s not able to do the former. Regardless of how one feels about him or his policies, he still officially represents Pakistan on the world stage, and his latest tweet just made this proud nuclear-armed power look ignorant and petty. No patriotic Pakistani can support what he just did.


Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst, radio host, and regular contributor to several online outlets. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia. The article has been republished and the views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.