Photoshopping the prime minister

Published: January 6, 2012
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You know things are not running smoothly when the PID circulates a ‘photoshopped’ picture of the prime minister, the chief of army staff and chairman joint chiefs of staff committee. PHOTO: PID

A photograph circulated by the Press Information Department across newsrooms recently had Yousaf Raza Gilani standing in the middle, chatting with General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and General Khalid Shameem Wynne, with his fingers stationed uncomfortably near his chest — a pose we normally won’t stand in. But then again he is the prime minister.

A sub-editor’s journalistic curiosity and an acute eye for detail led to a legitimate inquiry. Experts were called in. Professional advice was sought. No one could figure out this enigmatic conundrum: What happened to the prime minister’s fingers? “They are hiding something,” screamed one over-worked editor. “It is the memo, people,” hushed another pale-faced girl. “No! Gilani is showing Kayani the conversation between Husain Haqqani and Mansoor Ijaz on his BlackBerry,” came another sweeping declaration. But true hope often emerges from the unlikeliest of places. A ‘chai wala’ figured it all out. He closely inspected the image for a while. And then came the revelation: “They removed a teacup from his hand!”

An unfamiliar realisation gushed across the newsroom. The photo had been altered. I must give credit to the enormously untalented designer who carried out the dirty job (the prime minister’s suit was blue originally, just saying). Had the job been done meticulously, we would have assumed the prime minister was simply tired. Some calls were made and we finally got hold of the original picture.

You know things are not running smoothly when the PID circulates a ‘photoshopped’ picture of the prime minister, the chief of army staff and chairman joint chiefs of staff committee. I fail to understand what purpose did the move serve. The prime minister was casually having tea, while engaging in a casual conversation with the chief of army staff.

Was the premier’s nonchalant demeanour in front of the army chief a plausible threat to the supremacy of the military? If anything, the original picture negated all notions of the apparent standoff between the military and the government. It seemed all had been forgotten over a cup of tea. But then the teacup vanished.

The ‘chai wala’ might have solved the ‘lesser’ mystery, but the real question remains unanswered. Why was the teacup removed to begin with?

musabmemon

Musab Memon

A sub-editor on the National desk of The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.