For the first time since announcing my intention to become Pakistan’s first American president, I confess that I am worried.
Let me explain what drives my despair. For each successive missive I have posted on this medium, my Facebook “likes” — that most crucial predictor of success — have plummeted ever more precipitously, from a high of 171 to the most recent lowly quantum of 13. I fear that the buzz surrounding my candidacy is dissipating. The .0000045 per cent of Pakistanis who speak English, use the Internet, and engage Facebook are letting me down.
Worse, I’m being told that Pakistan’s establishment may shift allegiances by dumping me and throwing its weight behind that cheeky ex-cricketer who resembles a young Richard Gere. Fiddlesticks!
The rising momentum of this curious upstart, who attracts as much skepticism in Washington as a certain fellow does reverence, has prompted my advisers to urge me to do something heretofore verboten in US foreign policy: Defer to Pakistani public sentiment.
I hereby declare that, in the shared interest of our two great nations — and we all know that at least 1/450 of US and Pakistani interests are shared — I shall start to engage the Pakistani people. To wit, I shall respond to the grievances of those who pose the greatest threat to my candidacy: the PTI trolls.
I confess that when first confronted with this option, I thought I was being instructed to engage those adorable Norwegian gnomes — until I realised my staff had different trolls in mind.
My advisers have set up a live Internet chat on our campaign website (for fear of spawning hacker attacks, I shall not divulge the URL here), and invited the trolls to weigh in on my candidacy, with yours truly encouraged to respond. The live feed follows forthwith; we will keep it rolling so long as it is not interrupted by the loadshedding that theoretically stopped earlier this month:
Imran4ever: Ug Lee, ur drones r responsible 4 all our problems. Think of all that has afflicted us since your dastardly drones program began in 2004 — militancy, floods, earthquakes, JuniorJackStupidiscoGate, and the mediocre nihari I consumed last night. With no drones, we would have none of these horrors.
UgLeeAlltheWay: Tut tut, my dear Imran4ever! We suspended drones for much of December, and what did that bring you? Memogate and other monstrosities. And soon after we resumed the drones campaign, your cricket team and a brilliant filmmaker scored great successes. Now that we know that drones exist in Pakistan, we can both exult in their efficacy.
PTIoftheTiger: Ug Lee, we must rid Pakistan of its ills, and bring back clean politics and good governance. This must begin by expunging all vestiges of America’s malign influence, as embodied by your every move in Pakistan.
UgLeeAlltheWay: PTIoftheTiger, rest assured that the most unsavory elements of America are nowhere to be found in Pakistan these days. These elements are presently stalking our home front, as they fight for the right to become the next president of America. Whatever you see here in Pakistan is innocuous by comparison.
Trollwhocantspell: Ig Loo,your aid is a purse.
UgLeeAlltheWay: Trollwhocantspell, your observation is just slightly off the mark. In fact, our aid is a number of things — we recently launched a shampoo assistance program, and I have promised, as president, to ply Pakistan with pizza as well. Purse aid and other forms of accessory assistance are sure to follow. And in due course — to be exact, in 954 years, when US textile lobbies disappear — we’ll let you export those purses right back to America’s shores, tariff-free.
Peaceniktroll: Ug Lee, you are a pathetic hypocrite. You fault our Kaptaan for pursuing peace with militants instead of killing them, and then you go ahead and pursue peace with militants instead of killing them.
UgLeeAlltheWay: Oh, Peaceniktroll, enough of your claptrap! Do you really think —
PTIoftheTiger: We have expelled him from our midst! It even took less than 90 days. The tsunami has roared, our revolution is complete, and —
RanitheMuppetchatmoderator: Sorry for the delay. Pakistan’s next president had to take an urgent call from a critical funder in Langley, Virigina. He will return shortly.
UgLeeAlltheWay: Peaceniktroll, thanks for your effusive feedback. Our strategy is simple: if our drones fail to kill the same militant after 100 attempts, then we invite him to the negotiating table. I call this my 1 perc ent doctrine. This was unnecessary in the case of foot-massage-loving, rooftop-reclining Beitullah Mehsood, but necessary with those elusive Afghan Taliban. You can also call it Fight, Miss, Talk, Build. And when —
[Live feed ends].
That power cut signals the end of our online engagement with the trolls. I now feel so much more connected with common Pakistanis.
So as I painfully ride out this loadshedding on such a chilly night, I can confidently assure you (as I crank up my super-powered generator, reach for one of my many bottles of mineral water, and settle in with a good book about how to uncover hidden nuclear assets): Ug Lee feels your pain.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.
Michael Kugelman is the senior program associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MichaelKugelman.
The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.