Maleeha’s UN gaffe

The picture gaffe gave India a chance to further its propaganda.

The picture gaffe gave India a chance to further its propaganda.

By Umer Tariq

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi put on an impressive show at the UN General Assembly session and bulldozed the allegations leveled by India’s external Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

However, Lodhi’s fiery reply was accompanied by a ‘blunder’ of enormous proportions. During her speech while highlighting Indian atrocities in Kashmir, Lodhi showed the picture of a young ‘Kashmiri’ girl who had suffered sharp injuries to her face.

The use of the injured young girl’s picture was a well planned moved as its graphic nature depicted Indian atrocities in a way that simple words couldn’t have. But the well thought idea of depicting through a picture what Kashmiris are suffering in Indian-Occupied Kashmir at the hands of occupying troops was turned into embarrassment.

The picture of the young girl showed by Lodhi turned out to be that of a Palestinian girl. The picture taken by award winning American photographer Heidi Levine had already been published in numerous reputable international publications including The New York Times, CNN and Guardian. The subject of the picture was Rawya abu Jom’a, a 17 year old under treatment at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City in 2014. Rawya was wounded when two Israeli air strikes hit her family’s apartment. Three of her cousins and her sister were killed in the strike. The use of a wrongly attributed picture at the UN General Assembly by a senior diplomat puts a huge question mark on the performance of Pakistan’s Mission to United Nations. This was not a blunder that can be easily overlooked and it overshadowed Lodhi’s impressive response.

A little digging shows that the image comes up first when you ‘google’ the term ‘Kashmir pellet victim’, our able diplomats did not bother to cross check or verify the picture before deciding to wave it in the UN General Assembly. The blunder overshadowed the well framed and factual response to India’s allegations and gave the neighboring country a chance to further its propaganda.

*The writer is Deputy Editor of Daily The Patriot.

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