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Pakistanis and Parodies: The Nation’s Lethal Concoction of Satire

Often, when voyaging on the Pakistani side of Twitter, a tweep will always encounter one form of entertainment or the other, be that the downfall of an obnoxious pseudo-celebrity female, banter between politicians or an exchange of profanities between mutual followers. Every week, a new episode emerges and the viewer finds itself sucked into a Star Plus style soap opera, replete with savagely inane and docile characters.

   However, this particular season, my interest was aroused by the parody account @RehemKhan1, a guilty pleasure of many. Her absence had devastated her growing fans, and I only just noticed days into the  incident.
   Having been an admirer of Reham Khan since childhood, watching her on screen as one of the few Pakistani women on British television, I was somewhat offended when her parody account followed me. I could not bring myself to followback. This was a woman I adored, a woman who was the paragon of self-determination and feminism, one of the few women from my place of birth, who  had made it big in Pakistan, an individual I aspired to be like. How then, could I support something inherently against her?
   I retreated. I considered the times I had retweeted the fake account of Nasir Jamshed, remained silent to Saroor Ijaz’s vulgarities, flattered Zubeda Aapa’s skill and amused myself by several other parodies. I could not be biased. I could not be a hypocrite, I followed @RehemKhan1 back. I acknowledged her wit and complimented the satire in some of the tweets I found particularly amusing , on a political level. I refrained from the more personal ones.
   To find that a group of Insafians had reported this account, astounded me. Not because I condoned this, or felt that it was morally appropriate, but because of the nature of the complainants. Insafians? The same clique who’s trend-setting, people-bashing founding Father had once hidden behind a fake account himself (Abdul Qadeer Khan) who incited the degradation and inexcusable mockery of politicians? To find that a bunch of rowdy mischeif mongorers, who’s accounts thrived on  making fun of the physical appearance of other activists, had the audacity to report a parody account, amused me.
 If Reham Khan herself, had independently closed this down, or other Pakistani women in the professional field rebelled against it, I would have understood.
The sheer hypocrisy, blew my mind, leading me to construct this blog on a very personal level.
Where were we all when the fake account of Nasir Jamshed was insulting the intellect of our cricketers, dishing out unacceptable and racial insults that sparked controversy beyond borders? Where were we when Saroor Ijaz charmed young girls with his vulgarities? Where were we when the so-called ‘trendsetters’ used insulting photographs of politicians as propaganda, and released abusive trends against Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Mehr Tarar, and many other women in the political realm? Why are our moral outrages restricted to those who take to our fancy? Why is our concept of justice and respect not universal to people of all backgrounds and professional affiliations? The questions I have are limitless and I ask them again and again whenever I see a renowned personality being abused.
For a country who’s satirical culture is ingrained in parodies, fake accounts seem to be the eyesore for many, regardless of their affiliations. Yet at the same time, programmes like Hum Sub Umeed Se Hain and Khabarnaak, which are equally offensive, if not more, are thoroughly enjoyed by the same individuals. Impersonators are the nation’s favourite type of comedian and Pakistan has an abundance of such talent brewing within it. Making fun of a person and their appearance is almost a norm, and very rarely is this practise frowned upon in real life. How then, certain individuals find themselves being offended by parody accounts, is a parody in itself.
We simply cannot pick and choose what amuses us. If you are to condemn one thing, you must condemn the entirety in all it’s shapes and forms. If your role model is entitled to respect, so are the role model’s of others. For parties to battle between who unleashes a dictatorship upon Pakistani Twitter is intolerable; we must work cohesively. Until we do not stop breeding intolerance, such parody accounts will continue to form in your opposition.
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