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Tweeting for Pakistan

Published Aug 28, 2010 10:00am


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From her home in Brooklyn, New York, Natasha Jahangir reached out to one of the world's most famous actors, in a rather unusual way. She tweeted: “It's so sad @TomCruise is ignoring his Pakistani fans. -Help raise awareness/donations for Pakistan. Please RT! #pkfloods.” By using Twitter's @ or mention function, Jahangir ensured that her message would feature in a tab on Tom Cruise's page.

Three days later, the Mission Impossible star tweeted: “People of Pakistan, our thoughts R with U.” Cruise encouraged his 900,000 Twitter fans to look up more information on "how to help by going to the US State Department’s website or to simply send $10 through their mobile by texting the word "FLOOD" to 27722."  His message was re-tweeted by hundreds of his fans and soon became a Top Tweet on the site.

On August 18, Jahangir tweeted on Ryan Seacrest’s page: “Help raise awareness/donations for Pakistan. Please RT! #pkfloods  @RyanSeacrest.” The American Idol host soon retweeted to his 3.4 million followers: “Donate $10 to Pakistan flood relief by texting FLOOD to 27722.”

A week earlier, Jahangir, an architecture student who moonlights as a photographer, woke up determined to do something about the lack of awareness and ignorance in the US regarding the devastation that had hit Pakistan.

Pakistanis are currently living through one of the worst natural disasters of modern times. Floods have ruthlessly wreaked havoc on a fifth of the country, affecting 17 million people and 1.7 million hectares of agricultural land. Countless homes, lives and jobs have been destroyed. The US is currently leading assistance efforts in Pakistan, but their response, like much of the world was slow.

“People have been saying a lot of means things about Pakistan. Like Pakistan deserves this. They just have no idea of how bad things are in Pakistan,” said the 22-year-old Jahangir who grew up in Pakistan.  “It’s summertime, all of the celebrities are on tour. They are really busy, but Twitter is one way to reach them. A lot of people follow them. So I thought if they retweet to their followers: why isn’t somebody singing for Pakistan, at least their many fans will find out what’s happening in Pakistan.”

So for the next 36 hours, Jahangir basically mass-spammed famous American singers with the message: "I don't hear anyone singing We Are the World for Pakistan" Please RT #pkfloods”.

And her message caught on. She was soon retweeted by Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Queen Noor, Michelle Branch, and Marie Digby.

And the tweets started spreading. On August 22 Alicia Keys tweeted from her mobile to her 2.1 million fans: “How come I haven't heard much about what's happening in Pakistan? Do you feel the same?” Within minutes she followed that up with an article by a Pakistani columnist: “Are we becoming desensitized? "Why Doesn't the World Care About Pakistanis?" - By Mosharraf Zaidi”. That article was retweeted by hundreds of her fans.

As early as August 11, Jordan’s Queen Rania started raising awareness by tweeting to her 1.3 million Twitter followers: “Dire needs in Pakistan for flood-affected children - Help @UNICEF Please help these children by visiting”.

On August 25 Real Madrid Star Kaka tweeted, “Save lives in #Pakistan, the century's biggest humanitarian disaster.” He also posted a link for his 1.8 million Twitter followers around the world to donate to Pakistan through the World Food Programme.

British industrialist Richard Branson has also stepped up his tweets for Pakistan. "Across the Virgin Group we are coming together to support the people affected in Pakistan," the father of the Virgin brand posted on his Twitter page. "We must hold the people of Pakistan in the heart of the human family at this time - Desmond Tutu on #pkfloods."

Both Kaka and Branson used two popular Twitter hashtags on the floods: #pkfloods and #pakistan.  These user-generated tags are being tweeted an average of 1,000 times a day according to a website.

Actress and philanthropist Alyssa Milano, who has been regularly tweeting about the floods since August 12 to her one million followers, is currently leading the celebrity Twitter drive for Pakistan.  This year Milano won VH1's "Do Something Twitter" award for using the site to raise money for a non-profit working to supply clean water. On her birthday, she asked her followers to donate money to the charity instead of buying her birthday gifts.

These days on her Twitter page, Milano has been raising awareness about the flood victims, how people can help and also information about Pakistan in general. On August 20, she tweeted: "1 more #Pakistan tweet for 2day. Seems a lot of you think it's in the Middle East (shouldn't matter but), it's not. It's in South Asia. :) ".

Sahar Habib Ghazi blogs at and has been selected as a 2010-2011 Journalism Knight Fellow at Stanford University.

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.


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (77) Closed

Sadiapa Sep 07, 2010 02:24am
So very proud of you. You've always been an ocean of endless love and generosity. Pakistan is proud to have a daughter like you. Keep up the good work and always, always, keep smiling.
Kashif Sep 02, 2010 08:55am
Natasha Jahangir person of the year 2010 :-)
MDreas Sep 02, 2010 04:11am
Social media for the greater good. We should learn from this girl's actions: what can we do to help?
ahseyaAyesha Sep 01, 2010 11:15am
Thanks natasha! :)
Karim Javed Sep 01, 2010 07:20am
Hats Off you Young Lady we are really proud of you.
layla Aug 29, 2010 11:47am
great job nat
Tressie Wiens Aug 30, 2010 06:23pm
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Mushtaq Ahmed Aug 30, 2010 02:16am
Sahar has admirably highlighted the power of web and excellent initiative by Natasha. But more important is the awareness amongst the good people the world over to feel the human tragedy in Pakistan. Their response must to be appreciated. I do hope the donations collected is channeled to the needy and not gobbled up by the sharks in raging Indus river.
Sadia W Aug 30, 2010 12:47am
Natasha Im just so proud of you.
Zain Bhatti Aug 29, 2010 10:51pm
Awesome work... my heart goes for all u ppl who helped.... keep up the positive work!
Chris Johnson Aug 29, 2010 10:29pm
The fact remains that most Pakistanis hate the west and no matter what your opinions are, facts will be facts. If Pakistanis continue on their hate path, they will get little sympathy next time.
Chris Johnson Aug 29, 2010 10:26pm
It would be good if this flood causes some introspection among Pakistanis. One the one hand they hate the west and talk of Jihad. On the other hand, they want money from the west. If you hate others you will not get any sympathy or money when you are in trouble. I doubt if Pakistanis will change their attitude once the crisis is over. It will be back to the Jihad days. If that happens, the next time you will not even get lip sympathy.
Chris Johnson Aug 29, 2010 10:30pm
At last one sensible comment.
AR Aug 29, 2010 07:32pm
Good job! but she is not the only one. There are scores of other Pakistanis on Twitter who are trying to raise awareness. For instance see tweets by @FarhanMasood and @RumaisaM
B Aug 29, 2010 07:42pm
Sir/madam, It is the populace that elected (and has consistently elected) the incompetence in Islamabad. I don't understand the country's infatuation with 'democracy' when a) they don't know what it is, and more importantly b) It has never worked for Pakistan. Using historical economic indicators as a yardstick, it seems that more often than not, prosperity has come under dictatorship. It is unwise to expect nationalism when no unification exists. The country is not a nation, it is a state. Also, in the world of man as it exists today, something Bertrand Russell once wrote comes to mind: 'Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons'
rz Aug 29, 2010 08:26pm
Good work Natasha. Calling for help is also sign of rationality and clarity of thought. I am glad that you called these top celebrities and they acted on it right away. The extremist right in our mist have and would have already called these celebrities apostates and passed other righteous judgments against them and called on to public not to accept their donations, but Pakistani common men, women and children who are suffering will surely welcome their help. Good work Natasha. I am assuming that you like Tom's movies as well, most of us do :-)
Anonymous Aug 29, 2010 08:07pm
'aid should come through UN' is in today's Dawn.
Yamina Jaffri Aug 29, 2010 04:40pm
Well Done!! You guys are brilliant. I thank you two from the bottom of my heart to come up with such a plan
reactionary Aug 29, 2010 04:52pm
I will be happy when some of these stars donate a movie fee or two for pakistan, retweeting takes a flick of a button Real effort requires opening a chekbook which is usually closed unless "haiti" or some other tropical Paradise suffers. Still I commend the effort by natasha
Rida Shariq Aug 29, 2010 04:38pm
Natasha you have done an amazing job! God bless you
hamza Aug 29, 2010 03:58pm
I agree, plus this moment is about humanity and life, we need to get beyond petty issues like these.
Imad Hameed Khan Aug 29, 2010 03:55pm
Technology put to great use.Bravo Natasha!
N.Pervez Aug 28, 2010 07:40pm
Adnan! The present Government is an EMBARRASEMENT for us Pakistanis not Natasha Jehangir. Please! this is not a man made disaster, this is called Climate change caused by the majority of the First World and developed Nations. So re-evaluate your thoughts and make a Difference like Natasha has. Rock on Natasha and the likes of her...... you all make me Proud!
Abhishek Aug 29, 2010 02:25pm
Extending the help is OK but authorities should also realise that the aid should reach the victims otherwise no matter how much the world help will do no good to flood victims.
Haroon M Aug 29, 2010 02:39pm
Natasha is probably one of many who have been doing a lot for the cause. She happened to get noticed. All of the unsung heroes need our praise. Bless you all and may your efforts bear fruit!
Zara Aug 28, 2010 05:19pm
I can't begin to tell you all how lucky ms. jahangir has been in tweeting, because I have been doing the same. Luckily, I caught the attention of Angelina Jolie so far and it worked. :) Bless everyone who is helping the flood victims. We at PAF are doing our best as well. But we should not stop, it should carry on :) So proud to be a Pakistani.
blueMountain Aug 28, 2010 04:39pm
Ms. Jahangir you are a hero... heroine sorry. You do not need to be rich and famous to be one. Ur heart has to be shining bright for all to see. And your's is a glare even in during the day.
satwa gunam Aug 29, 2010 03:28am
Hi, I feel sorry for the victims as i see ordinary citizen like me.
Aamir Aug 30, 2010 11:59am
Chris, I do see your POV and if I was in your shoes probably would have thought the same. However, you are referring to a handful of people who carry hatered based on ignorance not only toward the west but to anyone who does not agree with their extreamist ideology and that's why thousands of innnocent civilians have been target of terrorism in the country. People who are actually affected by this natural disaster mostly don't even know whole lot about the west, they live in villages and earned a very hard living and live a very simple life. What we see and hear on the media about general population in Pakistan hating the west is not true. A common day Pakistani or a mass majority do not hate the west; if they hate the west they would not go and study there, watch their media, follow their fashion, eat their food, learn and speak their language etc, etc etc. Our goal should be to educate people on both sides about the reality and deny fiction and exagurations some times media potrays. Cheers!
worried pakistani Aug 29, 2010 08:54am
as a pakistani Im not allowed to criticise in this blog as comments will be deleted by moderator - like a fake democracy even this blog thing is fake ( window dressing )
Avinash Aug 28, 2010 01:36pm
I agree that everything possible must be done to help the people suffering due to the flood. But, if they are illiterate villagers, then it is the duty of the educated citizens of Pakistan to improve the image of their country.
helix Aug 29, 2010 02:28am
Yeah Pervez, Blame it on the West.
Guru Aug 28, 2010 01:02pm
Nobody is gloating here. What , speaking for myself, I am saying is that I do not feel the empathy that I felt during the quake. It did hurt to see a mother thrust her baby to the BBC correspondent hoping the child would have a better chance with her. But we are tired of this vicious hammering that we get everytime, we feel that some progress is being made.
layla Aug 29, 2010 11:48am
well done natasha...i think we all can learn a thing or 2 from you!
samana Aug 28, 2010 12:48pm
miss jahangir has done a great job. may God bless her and i pray that this AID get in hands of RIGHT ppl.
Mcphisto Aug 28, 2010 12:29pm
First of all, Thank You Sahar Habib for highlighting this little thing and giving it the appreciation it deserves. For detractors, this tweeting business is just trivial and nothing concrete, but i can say this in confidence that there MUST be people out there who got the awareness about the disasters BECAUSE of these Re-tweets and helped in Generating funds and donations. This little act of single-minded determination and resilience is a shining example for all of us who wonder what to do for their country, how to go about it, and just basically procrastinating. This girl, sitting thousands of miles away from Pakistan and totally unaffected by the flood itself, yet had the passion in her heart and the will to help her country in any way she could. And HELP she did! We are all quick to pounce, criticise and question motives of the people but for once, keeping aside all the enmity between countries, politicians, individuals, For all the ills afflicting Pakistan, and our hatred for the corruption the seeps within every strata of the society in this country, this is NOT the time to play blame game and sigh. This is the time to rise and help in ANY way we could. everything counts, even these re-tweets. THANK YOU and God bless you, Natasha Jahangir, for doing what you did and making all of us SO proud of you!
Farrah Aug 28, 2010 12:16pm
Well done Natasha! I'm really proud and grateful. Here in the UK, public donations have been good so far but the story is falling out of the news unfortunately. I did have an impression that the American public was generally ignorant to the catastrophe, and that they really didn't care. The comments sections of flood stories on a number of American news websites are inundated by racist comments that reflect badly on the American public.
S. A. M. Aug 29, 2010 11:44am
Dear Adnan, At this point the sooner you and all of us realize that we need help from wherever it comes the better and we should be thankful to those who extend a helping us to the needy people. when people are dying of hunger are without shelter without any money we talk of such things. get away from the computer and do something practical.
vijender Aug 29, 2010 12:33pm
It is fashionable to blame everything on climate change. Monsoon is not a result of climate change and it can be weak or strong depending on so many things (happening as far as in the Pacific like El Nino and La Nina). The bigger question is that as of Saturday the UN's $500 million aid package was just 64% funded and Pakistan is looking for orders from invisible masters to accept direct aid from India. Is it so difficult to grab opportunities which will help in reconciliation in the long run? India is currently offering $ 5 million. A positive response can actually lead to further aid pouring in from India. $ 500 million is a small amount and probably India can fund it on its own, but there is no taker for that. People are dying and Pakistan is trying to be politically correct, sighting special relationship and complex bilateral relations. This is absurd! ppl are tweeting to celebrities who are least interested n help and ignoring those who are eager to help.
adnan Aug 28, 2010 03:46pm
This artcile is a little embarrassing for me. Begging for help is not my style, whether its from US, UK or hollywood. Head high do it yourself, yes it will be painful for a short time and tragic but Pakistan will muddle through and come out. Just remember this flood won't kill Pakistan it will only make it stronger.
truthmonger Aug 28, 2010 11:54am
We indeed are grateful for the US and UK. We just want them to go directly through the people via NGO's and Local govt. Also, they should inform all about what they are giving so that it can be tracked.
Fahad Aug 28, 2010 11:51am
The world of web is the biggest source of spreading awareness around the world and natasha and other Pakistanis have really made an impact via that. Good work guys. Allah will bless you all..!!
truthmonger Aug 28, 2010 11:56am
How did u figure that out?
eA Aug 28, 2010 11:44am
Well SJ, i think your comment sounds very funny to me...Who told you Pakistanis hate this or that, i think people should stop assuming things themselves and WE PAKISTANIS should ONLY BE thankful to ALLAH that he made HIS people realize to help the humanity PEACE!
Umayr Aug 28, 2010 03:41pm
Good job Sahar! This is really inspirational. For all those who think Pakistan deserved this - don't forget this could have and may happen to anyone anywhere...arrogance is pretty uncool in this situation....and those who still believe that Pakistan does what the news channels tell you, then please make an effort and educate yourselves. We're all played rather stupidly by agencies and governments and sadly enough, most of us just nod along. For starters, please watch Gen Hamid Gul's interview to an American radio show on youtube. God bless Pakistan and the world.
sdas Aug 28, 2010 03:21pm
SJ and cowhand, As an American - Indian, I have written a letter ( published on Aug 17th ) for a Indo-Pak cricket match, called my friends to donate generously and have tried my best to help the flood-victims. I am not posting this to make name-calling a positive thing but cowhand is doing exactly what vijay kumar has done. The Indians I know personally - none of them have gloated.
Assif Aug 28, 2010 02:46pm
I am a Pakistani and how dare you stereotype and make the assumption by saying 'Pakistani's hate everything about America especially their actors, but when they need their help they
khurram Aug 29, 2010 07:13am
Great job Natasha, your approach is very inovative & effective. I wish that more Pakistani's would think like you and do something in some capacity for their country. Keep up the good work. I also agree with AK's comments, furthermore it would be interesting to find out if any of our dear leaders (Zardari, Sharifs, Altaf, Asfandyar, Chaudarys of Gujrat....etc.....etc) have donated any thing at all from their own pocket. To be honest I wouldn't think SO......I think the only thing that these parasites are good for is to get what ever they can out of this country rather than giving.
Bushra Hassan Aug 29, 2010 06:59am
Brilliant Natasha... way to go!
syed makki shah Aug 29, 2010 01:10am
I thought twitter and facebook were a waste of time. I hereby admit to all and sundry, I was wrong...Good for the young brother and many thanks for all the stars who took tweeted and urged their followers to help...
khalid khan Aug 29, 2010 12:54am
Very recently I met an american cititizen in Peshawar. Amazingly he went to every Part of Pakhtoonkhwa, the most fragile region of Pakistan. I just ask him why the peoples of Pakistan hate America? Like you I was also of this opinion. He replied that before coming here he also think the same way, but he says its different. He told me anywhere he go he was have love by everyone and was amazed to see by himself how kind these peoples are towards me. He just pointed to a small restaurantthat I eat there but they refused to take charge me. I also noticed that the peoples are gathered and take photograph with him. I think the peoples has no animosity with the peoples of america but the policies of the successive regime for the muslim world.
Muhammad Ilyas Aug 28, 2010 10:21am
At least someone started to do what was in her grasp. We need to do whatever we can (if you haven't started yet). Come to do some volunteer work at PAF base to pack the aid material.
rich05 Aug 28, 2010 06:56am
what natasha is doing is really great for her country , may there be many more natashas in this world we need them
Amna Tariq Shah Aug 29, 2010 09:39am
Impressed with your efforts, Natasha..such a simple but thoughtful way you discovered to help your nation in distress :) Clapping for you!
shzd Aug 28, 2010 09:27am
We are thankful to the US, UK and all other nations of the world including India for helping us at this disastrous moment. Thank you. A Pakistani
simpel English man Aug 28, 2010 09:07am
Pakistan is rich resourceful country they will survive this situation. They know how to get things going on, it is there experience and strategy from past 60 years. We have to pay and help Pakistan or they will extort from us.
SJ Aug 28, 2010 08:27am
You have a point. but the average pakistani who is suffering is not aware of the world and is just a common man...they truly do deserve our help. But I understand what you are saying. A lot of Pakistanis have a lot of hate for Americans/Jews/Indians/whatever. They basically despise anyone who isn't like them, and the rest of the world has come to notice it. When you display intolerance towards someone because of their religion or nationality, don't be surprised if they return the favour.
Saira Ansari Aug 29, 2010 05:40am
Good Lord! Trust a fellow Pakistani to put another one down. Can you just sit back in your chair and eat your yummy iftari while the world helps starving people stranded in water dying of diseases? thank you very much.
iqbal akhund Aug 28, 2010 07:45am
Great job, Natasha! But re AK above, can't we ever say anything without knocking politicians and bureaucrats?
verming Aug 28, 2010 08:36am
Had the same feeling ,but the sight of kids crying is just too overwhelming "just help them"
SJ Aug 28, 2010 08:13am
Pakistanis hate everything about America and especially their actors/actresses, but when they need their help they'll go running towards them. Pakistanis should be thankful to the UK and US for so much support.
cowhand Aug 28, 2010 08:15am
Thanks Vijay.... I'll let the illiterate village think about that as he watches his life go by... The comments of too many Indian's have bordered on absolute gloating and the glee at our catastrophe is 3rd rate...
Guru Aug 28, 2010 07:40am
During the last Kashmir earthquake, I felt happy when IAF planes carrying aid landed in Pakistan. Felt that the natural tragedy may have a silver lining - bring about some kind of thaw. Somehow this time I do not have that kind of a feel - The wounds from the Mumbai attack are too raw, still.
verming Aug 28, 2010 07:44am
Tweets for Pakistan, it's just a fad with little or no impact in real sense"
M. Shoaib Aug 28, 2010 07:34am
Very well compiled article!
Vijay Kumar Aug 28, 2010 07:38am
Pakistanis have also to think why the world is reluctant to sing for Pakistan....
7eba Aug 28, 2010 06:47am
I couldn't agree more @ Swapnil.
Mohammad Syed Aug 28, 2010 11:08pm
Absolutely brilliant. Sometimes, it's the simplest of ideas of reaching out like "Tweeting a celebrity" all that it takes to make thousand if not millions aware of what's going on in the world. Well done.
FurSid Aug 28, 2010 06:34am
Congrats Natasha! it worked!!! :D you made it! it did created a wave... woah! Proud to know u!
Surinder Aug 28, 2010 11:00pm
There is no doubt that the UN (or US) led flood relief for Pakistan is not evoking the response as it should due to Pakistan's bad image.This has been stated by UN officials that funds are not forthcoming the way they shouldand Pakistan's image is reason besides economic melt down int he west. Like everything Pakistan's Govt will deny this but it is a fact that the sympathy wave is missing. playing politics with India's offer of 5 million $ Pakistan's leadership has proved that the troika od mulahs/ feudal lords are using these floods as a weopon to get publicity and aid that will hardly reach the needy.They will attribute every failure to these floods now.Time and again they have used their own public's miseries as a weopon to garner sympathy and funds. I feel sorry for common man who is victim of natural disaster anywhere in the world but I have hardly seen the representatives of the needy and suffering showing attitude and "sensitivities" that Pakistan's leadership is showing. 5 million looks peanuts but it was goodwill gesture that was needlessly snubbed.
AK Aug 28, 2010 06:30am
Absolutely! God bless that girl and her passion for the plight of Pakistanis. If only, the politicians and bureaucrats (supposedly tasked w/ caring for the well-being of the populace) felt that way about living up to their responsibilities. If American celebrities like Angelina Jolie can find it in her heart to donate generously, why can't the head honchos of corporate Pakistan and the feudal lords do the same? So much for patriotism!
Swapnil Aug 28, 2010 05:58am
I think this is what you call constructive patriotic passion. Isn't she much better than the politicians and religious parties who only raise aggressive slogans and volience to prove how partiotic they are
MB Aug 28, 2010 05:50am
Its good that a few Pakistani are reaching out to the world in a positive manner. PAK and its young generation needs to learn more and more on HOW THE NEW WORLD works.
rizwan Aug 28, 2010 09:38pm
and how did you manage to figure that out?
Imrana Rana Aug 28, 2010 09:32pm
well done Natasha, we are very proud of you, we need such youth to make our country progress now the youth should come together to help it rise again,,
Ahmed Saeed Aug 28, 2010 08:21pm
We are thankful to all who has helped or helping Pakistan at this dire moment. But all Pakistanis would like that the same messages be sent to those sitting at the helm of the affairs to divide the aid justly and do not ask for the wrath of the nature any more.
Vanessa Samuel Aug 31, 2010 06:43am
Hats off to Natasha and all those volunteers whose names havent been mentioned. At present all I can to say to those who belive Pakistani's possess hatred for the west or deserve this castrophe is that This is the time when u can prove ur humanity. If u belive ur asumption is true , visit the effected areas or atleast visit Pakistan and change ur thoughts abt a land who wishes to progress and improve and live peacfully jus da way u do!