Pakistanis in UAE miffed at newspaper editorial
KARACHI: Nizam, a Pakistani resident in the UAE, recently cancelled his 10-year-old subscription of the Gulf News. Saad Suliman, too, unsubscribed to the newspaper as well as the daily email alerts, and deleted the Gulf News smartphone application.
Similarly, many Pakistanis in the UAE are following suit and are actively participating in a social-media campaign against the Dubai-based newspaper after it published an editorial on Sunday titled “Pakistan and Afghanistan betrayed a friend”.
The editorial, published on the newspaper’s front page on December 15, accuses its close allies – Pakistan and Afghanistan – of refusing to vote for Dubai in the bidding held in Paris last month for the Expo 2020. The newspaper said that according to their sources, the two countries turned their backs on Dubai.
In the same issue, another editorial was published on its opinion pages titled “Expo 2020 vote: UAE deserves answers from Pakistan and Afghanistan”. Though Dubai won the bidding, the newspaper said that they want explanations as to why the two ‘friends’ did not vote for the city. The editorial expressed disappointment as the UAE has invested politically and economically in both the countries and the country is a key financial supporter of infrastructure and development projects in Pakistan. The editorial on the website received 981 responses before it was closed down for comments.
The editorials triggered reactions from the Pakistan government and the community. Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told The Express Tribune that the editorial was malicious and its content is far from reality. She said Turkey approached the Pakistan government in 2011 for support in the Expo 2020 bidding and the latter agreed. A year later, when the UAE approached the Pakistani government, they were informed about their prior commitment to Turkey. “However we told the UAE that in case Turkey withdraws or loses, we will support the UAE in other rounds – and that’s exactly what we did. We voted for them after Turkey lost. The UAE officials even later thanked us for the support,” she explained.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani community in the UAE has turned towards social media to express their anger and demand the newspaper issue a front-page apology.
On Facebook, a page ‘We demand an apology from Gulf News’ has been made that has received over 5,000 likes. Page administrator Omar Wynne told The Express Tribune, “The page was made to serve as a platform where everyone hurt and enraged by the Gulf News editorial, which was biased and fabricated, could share their sentiments.”
Wynne, a Pakistani who lives in Abu Dhabi, says that he does not have a specific number of cancelled subscriptions but can confirm it is in the thousands – people have also refused the free Gulf News copies they used to receive.