China’s Deputy Chief of Mission in Pakistan Lijian Zhao has lent his support to Asad Umar, who is facing social media backlash from none other than his own Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists following his departure as finance minister.
Calling Umar a ‘man of integrity who dares to speak the truth’, the Chinese envoy shared a clip of an old interview the PTI leader recorded for BBC's Hard Talk in a tweet on Monday. The former finance minister had lectured the western leaders for criticising Pakistan’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and China in the interview aired in December, 2018.
Appreciating the Chinese diplomat’s appreciation, Umar praised China for proving wrong its critics that had long predicted the failure of its economic model. “For years we have heard them say that the Chinese model was wrong and bound to fail. We are proud that China has proven them wrong,” he wrote on Twitter.
Very kind of you. About time we all stood up for the truth instead of letting the colonial mindset lecture to us. For years we have heard them say that the chinese model was wrong and bound to fail. We are proud that china has proven them wrong #PakChinaFriendshipZindabad https://t.co/XdjtdQJkIL— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) April 21, 2019
The recent reshuffling of the federal cabinet triggered unrest among the party’s social media cadre and supporters, who led by Farhan Virk, launched a campaign against Umar and his alleged plans of an intra-party power grab.
PTI social media warriors turn guns on Asad Umar
The campaign has also caught the attention of the party’s senior leadership and calls for its end are picking up pace.
Taking to Twitter earlier today, senior party leader Shafqat Mehmood strongly condemned the ‘sponsored tirade’ against his colleague. “He [Umar] is an asset for the party and indeed with his rare talents, an asset for Pakistan. Such cowardly campaigns will only enhance his stature.”
Strongly condemn the sponsored tirade/attack against senior PTI leader Asad Umar on social media. He is an asset for the party and indeed with his rare talents, an asset for Pakistan. Such cowardly campaigns will only enhance his stature— Shafqat Mahmood (@Shafqat_Mahmood) April 22, 2019
On Sunday, another PTI stalwart Jahangir Khan Tareen expressed solidarity with Umar and strongly condemned the Virk-led campaign.
I vehemently condemn Farhan Virk's campaign against Asad Umar. Asad & I have struggled together against the status-quo for more than 8 years & I hold him in the highest regard. Asad continues to be part and parcel of PTI senior leadership and we all value his role.— Jahangir Khan Tareen (@JahangirKTareen) April 21, 2019