Twitter had a field day as PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif visited Pakistan Peoples Party stronghold Lyari for his election campaign on Tuesday.

For Mr Sharif, the metropolis bid him farewell with fond memories of his impromptu performance at a local hotel where he sang Ahmed Rushdi’s ‘Akelay na jaana’.

“I accepted the demand of the people of Karachi :) “Akelay na jaana, hamain chhorh kar tum - tumharay bina hum bala kia jiyain gy” with sincere thanks for their warm welcome! Pleasure to sing along with the singers who were performing!” he tweeted.

However, critics in Karachi were not entirely impressed.

PPP chairman Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari was quick to offer a riposte as he posted a cheeky couplet directed at the PML-N leader. “Mazdoor Ka Hay Haari Ka / Sindh Nahi Darbaari Ka / Vote Mangnay Niklay Hein / Rasta Tak Pata Nahi Liyari Ka,” he tweeted.

Speaking of play of words, Mr Sharif’s remarks on ‘Kiranchi’ and its denizens’ paan-eating habits did not go well with its people.

“It’s completely okay when we make fun of ourselves but it’s way out of line when an outsider like you @CMShehbaz say something derogatory about the city or the people that you’ve conveniently ignored for decades. Someone give him some paan please. #karachi,” tweeted a user.

Like most things on Twitter, the situation escalated quickly and became political.

“Dear @CMShehbaz Just gonna tell you a story my Aunty came from abroad in karachi the first thing she asked after arriving was paan. We love paan and we are a proud kiranchite #ShehbazDisunitesPakistan,” tweeted Shazaib Shakeel.

Former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal then stepped in to defend his party.

“Unfortunately events preceding GE2018 are ruining country’s standing as a democracy. PMLN & Media targeting is so obvious. If level playing field is denied, country will plunge into serious political crisis. PMLN getting stronger with every attack & emerge victorious IA!” he wrote.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2018