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Move to determine how photo faux pas happened at UN

Move to determine how photo faux pas happened at UN

UNITED NATIONS: A human blunder embarrassed Pakistan when its envoy displayed the picture of a Palestinian girl inside the UN General Assembly as a Kashmiri victim of Indian pellet guns and officials on Monday tried to determine how this happened.

The picture that Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi displayed on Saturday, while responding to a speech by the Indian foreign minister, was of 17-year-old Rawya Abu Jom’a who was injured during Israeli air strikes on her apartment in Gaza in 2014. The photo was taken by American photographer Heidi Levine.

By Sunday, Ms Lodhi’s photo holding aloft the picture became a rage on social media, as hundreds of thousands of people reproduced it on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.

But by the evening, the mistake was exposed as researchers traced the picture back to Levine’s collection. Now, millions more reproduced the picture, highlighting the mistake. Indian media too went berserk as Indian television channels devoted one talk-show after another to underlining the blunder.

An Indian diplomat used the right of reply to criticise Pakistan, saying Islamabad was using false pictures to accuse Indian security forces of committing atrocities in India-held Kashmir. The diplomat claimed that since India was not committing any atrocities, Pakistan was forced to use a fake picture.

Officials at the Pakistan Mission in New York, as well as those at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, are now trying to determine how a wrong picture was passed on to Ambassador Lodhi.

While it’s still being determined how this blunder happened, Pakistan once again used the right of reply to respond to Indian allegations.

Tipu Usman, a senior Pakistani diplomat, told the UN General Assembly that India’s attempt to rake up a debate about the wrong picture had backfired.

The controversy brought “more international coverage” to India’s use of pellet guns against Kashmiris, said Mr Usman while responding to a statement by an Indian diplomat.

The Pakistani community in the US had initially praised Ms Lodhi for exposing the face of India’s democracy, but the mistake embarrassed them too as the Indian-American community used this mistake to ridicule them.

The Pakistani diplomat, however, pointed out that India’s attempt to hide its atrocities under a picture had further highlighted what India has been doing in held Kashmir.

“Pictures of pelleted Kashmiris were tweeted extensively on Sunday night under the hashtag #MaleehaBlastedIndia. This hashtag reached around 3.3 million hits that analysts called a solid reminder to the Indians about the atrocities they are carrying out against the people of Kashmir,” Mr Usman said.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2017

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