The political memes that defined 2021

An account of occasions when Pakistani politicians provided plenty of entertainment with hilarious statements and antics

— Illustration by Sana Batool
— Illustration by Sana Batool

It has been a tough year, to say the least. From a devastating pandemic, skyrocketing inflation and a deeply polarised political environment in Pakistan, it was difficult at times to find silver linings.

But even in these dark times, social media found moments of humour to comfort us. looks back at the political memes that defined Pakistan this year. From the confusion over ginger and garlic, to lawmakers as snake charmers, we list down the greatest hits from 2021.

'Garlic is adrak' but it isn’t

During a press conference, federal minister for information and broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry was listing down the prices of food items when he got stuck on the word “garlic”. Searching the room for the Urdu translation of “garlic”, Chaudhry accidentally ended up using the word “adrak”, which means ginger, instead of “lehsan” for garlic.

And you know Twitter never misses a chance to spot a gaffe.

One Twitter user wrote that all men “are the same” and “bring coriander leaves when they are told to bring mint leaves and garlic when they are told to bring ginger”.

Swaying to the beat

Amir Liaquat Hussain, an MNA of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has always been in the spotlight for his controversial stunts and statements, which have spawned some hilarious memes. Hussain didn’t disappoint this year either.

The politician and television host slithered on the floor dancing like a nagin — a female snake — during a private TV channel’s Ramzan transmission. And his moves took the internet by storm.

One Twitter user likened his spirit with young children who groove at wedding events.

'No pappi, no jhappi'

With Eid around the corner, there was a general fear, and rightly so, of being infected with coronavirus during family events and gatherings. 

Government and health experts had advised the public to be vigilant and avoid large gatherings and physical contact. But former special assistant and a senior leader of the PTI, Firdous Ashiq Awan, explained the COVID-19 protocol to abide by rather simply and effectively.

Na rivayati Eid ki jhappiyan aur pappiyan hongi,” (There will be no traditional hugs and kisses on Eid), she said to a media gaggle.

And Twitter was quick to take note and also to abide by the advice.

What did the president tweet?

Former US president Donald J Trump had his “covfefe” moment, but Pakistan President Arif Alvi had an “M” moment, if we can call it that.

We all remember that time when we accidentally pressed "send" or when we sat on our phones as it typed away. Seems like the president had a similar accident, when he mistakenly posted a thread of tweets typing the words “M”, “H” and “Mum mmu”.

Even Alvi’s son, Awab Alvi, saw the funny side in the president’s “gibberish pocket tweeting” which he said had created a nationwide “Twitter crisis”.

The National Assembly ruckus

It is not unusual for parliamentarians to lose their cool on the floor of the house. This year, pandemonium erupted in the National Assembly as soon as Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif started speaking to the lower house during a session of the budget.

Soon after his speech, a commotion broke out on the floor of the house, with some lawmakers standing on their desks, while others tore copies of the financial budget.

And you know Twitter, it decided to have some fun in the madness.

One Twitter user compared the disturbance to her own family events.

Another joked that this is exactly why Pakistan needed “lighter budgets”

During the turmoil, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari could also be seen shouting “chor” (thief) at Opposition members, which reminded this Twitter user of his mother.