ISLAMABAD: The hashtag #Tabdeeli, or change, became the top trending Pakistani item on Twitter on Thursday and Friday, after Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a sweeping cabinet reshuffle on Thursday after only seven months in power.
From creating 10 million jobs to setting up world-class hospitals, building an Islamic welfare state and restoring Pakistan’s tattered image abroad, Khan came to power last August on a populist platform promising to root out corruption among a venal elite and lift people out of poverty. Change was what he and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party promised.
But as Finance Minister Asad Umar announced on Thursday that he was stepping down amid a major cabinet reshuffle which saw many figures from previous governments and turncoat politicians appointed to key posts, people took to Twitter to ask if this was, in fact, the change they had been promised.
Social activist M. Jibran Nasir questioned why so many tried and tested figures who had failed to deliver in the past had been reappointed:
“A select few keep playing musical chairs and we keep getting entertained. #Tabdeeli’” Nasir tweeted.
Popular columnist and consultant Mosharaff Zaidi said “The young core of the PTI has been cheated and lied to,” referring to the new appointments. “Terrible day for well wishers of Tabdeeli.”
Lawyer and writer Ayesha Ijaz Khan said she would’ve been a supporter of Khan’s PTI party from the start if she had ever believed it truly stood for change. “But it never did. It was a con job from the get go. A mere distraction to deny more organic reform from within existing political structures,” Khan wrote.
Others like filmmaker and editor Hassan Zaidi commented on the irony of the government denying the cabinet reshuffle for days, “only to have tabdeeli forced on to them,” referring to reports that some of the appointments were made at the behest of the powerful army.
And then there were those who took the opportunity to have a little fun at #Tabdeeli’s expense.
Cultural critic Ahmer Naqvi joked: Crazy that PTI killed off more major characters than #GameofThrones this season.
Comic @AsliBinLaden wrote:
“We will shuffle the cabinet” - Imran Khan
Someone tell him it's a cabinet and not his soundcloud playlist.
One Twitter user @IffiViews posted a picture of Imran Khan with his hands clasped together, looking up at the sky and praying, and wrote: “Ya Allah tera shukar mai bach gaya,” or “Thank Allah I have survived,”.