Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Name, A Name, My Kingdom for A Name - Updated

So, thanks to diligent reader Hamza, we now learn that the following story may, in fact, be rubbish. We have left the original story in place only because it seems unethical to pretend we never posted it in the first place. However, as I pointed out originally, despite thinking that the original story was some sort of prank, we ran with it assuming that Foreign Policy with all the resources at its disposal, would not have without checking it. Of course, they have now retracted the original post on their blog and have added the following words of caution:

"Don't believe everything you read in print. Sometimes, the press gets hold of a story and, before checking all the facts, goes off half-cocked."

A bit rich coming from them, if you ask me. In any case, there you have it. I suppose apologies are due all round, especially to the hapless Mr. Zeb. Of course (and I'm not trying to have my cake and eat it too), if one follows FP's caution as outlined above, one should not take their retraction at face value either... But it did always sound like a wishful story.

The Original Post:

I held off on posting this just in case this turned out to be some sort of spoof. But apparently not. My Arabic speaking sources confirm at least that the translation is correct. And as Foreign Policy's blog reports in considerable double entendre, the news has made it to Arab language newspapers.

Ambassador Miangul Akbar Zeb (Embassy Photo: Lee Berthiaume)

So, without further ado, here's how Salem-News of Oregon reported this delicate matter:

Saudi's Reject Pakistani Diplomat Whose Name Translates to 'Biggest Dick'
Tim King

In Saudi Arabia, size does count.
(SALEM, Ore.) - A high level Pakistani diplomat has been rejected as Ambassador of Saudi Arabia because his name, Akbar Zib, equates to "Biggest Dick" in Arabic. Saudi officials, apparently overwhelmed by the idea of the name, put their foot down and gave the idea of his being posted there, the kibosh.
Akbar Zib is no newcomer to politics, in fact you could say he's a pretty big deal. This long-ranging high level diplomat has worked with some of the largest members of world governments, players charged with negotiating the outcome of the world's current events.
He most recently served as High Commissioner Designate of Pakistan to Canada, and prior to that he was the ambassador of Pakistan to South Africa,. He also served in that capacity in Washington from 1983-87, and New Delhi from 1994-2000.
He earlier worked at the Pakistan headquarters as section officer from 1982- 83, director from 1987-94 and director-general from 2000-2003.
Miangul Akbar Zib, also whose name news agencies sometimes refer to as Zib, was born on 15 February, 1954. He holds a Masters degree.

According to the Arab Times (as reported by FP) the poor Mr. Zeb's credentials have previously been rejected on the same basis by UAE and Bahrain (he is currently the Pakistan High Commissioner in Canada). Are foreign relations between the "brotherly Islamic countries" or any states really so dependent on misinterpretation of slang?

I wonder what would happen if Mr. Lund became the Swedish ambassador to Islamabad. Or had Laura Bush ever visited Pakistan. May be that's why Begum Abida Hussain never referred to herself as Mrs. Fakhr Zaman Imam when she was our ambassador to the US. I guess that would also rule out sending anyone named Foqia on any diplomatic assignment in the English-speaking West. Not to mention Rabia Butt.


Anonymous said...

Fucking hilarious.

George Fulton said...

It reminds me of the Pontius Pilate character in Monty Python's Life of Brian 'Biggus Dickus'

Anonymous said...

The point to ponder is whether Pakistanis would have the guts to reject a future Saudi diplomat by the name of Zabardast Lora?

XYZ said...

@George Fulton: Ah, but does he have a wife named 'Incontinentia Buttocks'? :)

@Anon557: Oh come on, you can do better. You know zabaradast does not exist in Arabic.

Anonymous said...

Do Alam Zeb and Jahan Zeb translate as 'world class dicks' in Arabic?

Anonymous said...

@xyz: Oh yeah? Have you ever SEEN a Saudi dick? :)

sahaafi_baraadri said...

Does anyone else feel sorry for this foreign service waale uncle, too?

His picture's going around as well. Something that could've been avoided, Pyala guys?

Teeth Maestro said...

Friggin Hilarious - - you are too good

XYZ said...

@sahaafi-baraadri: Yes, I do feel sorry for Mr. Zeb. But including his picture here is really doing him no disservice I believe. After all, it's not him who's being idiotic. His photo has been splashed in all the news items we've linked to and is easily accessible on the net.

Omar R Quraishi said...

cafe pyala -- btw you mean mrs fakhar imam not fakhar zaman

XYZ said...

@Omar R Quraishi: oops. you are absolutely correct. Correcting now. Thanks.

forcedmeditation said...

Reminds me of that girl in my school.

Seema Butt.

And according to the rumors going around, her dad's name is Fakhar Butt/Mazhar Fakhar and mom's name is Kisma Butt.

Poor soul.

takhalus said...

is he from the wali of swats family?

Wasn't there a Brazilian pres called lula?

sahaafi_braadri said...

@XYZ: Sorry to be a party pooper here; I mean the thing itself is funny.

Ok, even though it's not a clean analogy to this particular incident but for purposes of illustration: we don't spread out child molestation vicims' pictures even though they themselves aren't the paedophiles.
Secondly, you're right. I saw his picture from another site first and Pyala second but I thought it would have been responsible for no one to do it on principle. This guy's not a politician. Or a public figure. This wasn't one of his career's occupational hazards. He didn't ask for this. His privacy should have been respected.
That people have already been doing it shouldn't matter.
He would already be the butt of jokes, the least that could be done is to not make his face recognizable.

In the end, I just sort of felt sorry for the guy, that's why I mentioned this. I'm sorry if I'm coming across as an Akbar Zib.

Anonymous said...

Did it ever occur to you that sending the poor chap was Zardari's way of showing the bird to the Saudi's after they refused help to Pakistan??

That being said, Saudi's in general need to be showed the bird for being the brainless racist bastards that they are.

Hamza said...

Well, seems like this story just came to an end.

Apparently the story was incorrect; foreign policy just published a retraction and you guys might want to update the post as well.

Bollytadka said...

Haha Nice one