Last night’s Oscar ceremony turned out to be a complete roller coaster ride of emotions as star after star with their incredible talents, and movie after movie, with their incredible cinematography were able to bag Oscars at the star studded event in Los Angeles, California.

With notable names such as Viola Davis winning an Oscar as the Best Supporting Actress for Fence, Mahersala Ali winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight, Emma Stone winning the Best Actress for La La Land and Casey Affleck as Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea.

Mahershala Ali, Emma Stone, Viola Davis & Casey Affleck (Left to Right) – Lucas Jackson/ Reuters

But by far the most embarrassing and awkward Oscar moment emerged when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty (shown below) were handed wrong envelopes by Pricewaterhouse Cooper (who have since promised an investigation into the matter and issued an official apology) which led to a brief victory for La La Land as the Best Picture for Oscars 2017 but in an immediate fiasco soon after the mistake was discovered Moonlight, the true victor of the Oscar was hailed as the Best Picture of 2017.

Faye Dunaway (right) and Warren Beatty (left) carrying the envelope which includes the name of the Best Picture at Oscars- Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Far more embarrassing are the actions of Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative at United Nations who retweeted a tweet celebrating Mahershala Ali’s victory as the first Muslim to win an Oscar but soon deleted the tweet when it was found out that he is an Ahmadi by faith.


Maleeha Lodhi’s retweet which was immediately deleted after it was discovered that he is Ahmadi-Twitter

The Ahmadiyya community despite considering themselves Muslims are declared non-Muslims under the Second Amendment to Pakistan’s Constitution of 1974. Since being declared as kafirs, or heretics, by the law of the land, Ahmadis have been denied their universal right of religious freedom often being persecuted in pogrom style attacks such as in 1953 Lahore riots, 1974 Anti-Ahmadiyya riots and the attack in May 2010 by Islamist extremists who attack and persecute this religious minority in complete impunity from the state itself.

Maleeha Lodhi is a well-respected and award winning diplomat, author and scholar that has been serving her nation for quite some time at various esteemed international organizations such as UNICEF, UN and World Economic Forum in the process also receiving many fellowships from Woodrow Wilson Center to Harvard University.

But despite her success as a Pakistani woman with incredible public service to her nation at home and aboard, her very action of deleting this tweet tarnishes her credibility as a diplomat, scholar and even UN representative, especially when it comes to upholding rights of persecuted religious and sexual minorities in her own nation.

Moonlight poster with all three phases of the main lead’s life – Moonlight Poster

Moonlight, the movie for which Ali won the Oscar as the Best Supporting Actor, is a coming of age tale of a young African American gay man from Miami who has to struggle with poverty and questions his very own sexuality in order to find inner peace.

Moonlight has been hailed as the first LGBT movie to have won an Oscar, but even that can’t hide the homophobic views of private news networks in Pakistan with Geo News Urdu declaring Moonlight even before its victory as a movie about ‘siya faam’ (Urdu for ‘Black’ folks) censoring the use of word ‘gay’ to even acknowledge the true narrative of this incredible movie.

Geo News Pakistan’s English blog also deleted its blog post which titled as ‘Mahershala Ali becomes first Muslim actor to win Oscar’. It was taken off its website after it emerged that Mr. Ali was in fact a member of the Ahmadiyya community deemed heretical in the country.

Geo News, Pakistan deleted its blog post immediately after posting it – Muhammad Salman Khan

Dr. Lodhi, who herself has been representing Pakistan at United Nations since February 2015, has not been kind enough to acknowledge or even accept the rights of gay and transgender community in Pakistan. Her tenure has been seen as the worst so far, even going a step ahead when Pakistan together with 51 Muslim countries of OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries), China, Russia and even some African countries blocked 11 LGBT groups from attending UN Aids meeting, a move considered by US ambassador Samantha Power to be ‘an epidemic and severely damaging the credibility of the UN’.

Similarly in February 2015, Pakistan joined the ‘Group of Friends of the Family’, a 25 member coalition which opposes the UN push for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality and abortion rights that is seen as threat to conservative religious and cultural values of some of its member states.

May be Ambassador Lodhi just doesn’t want to support a pro-gay movie?

Whatever the case might be, this is the age of Trump. It is fueled with an ultra-nationalistic agenda, both in US and across the world that is often viewed as a new era of right wing re-emergence. It is inherently sexist, racist, homophobic, Islamophobic and anti-science and is against everything from climate change, abortion to freedom of speech.

Dr. Lodhi has just made an inexcusable mistake, which shocks human rights activist at home and aboard. She is unfortunately mocked across the social media world.

Internet troll mocking the actions of Maleeha Lodhi on Twitter

It’s about time diplomats, journalists and scholars representing Pakistan at international forums adhere to universal values and freedoms. Despite the election of Trump as the President of United States we can clearly observe from the long list of nominations and winners at the Academy Awards that the American people in general are against discrimination of its LGBT community (despite Trump challenging Obama era transgender bathroom policy). They are against exclusion of anyone on the basis of their race (clearly seen at the 2017 Oscars with most Black winners to ever receive the Academy Awards) or religion (also seen by the victory of Iranian director of The Salesman who wasn’t able to come but condemned Trump’s immoral travel ban against Muslims, which is currently being challenged across the US for its inhumane and unconstitutional nature).

Artistic representation of the plight of minorities in Pakistan

But will Pakistan’s diaspora of academics, media professionals and members of its political dynasties ever have the same strength, vision and integrity to challenge and resist the cloud of religious extremism that is eating it up slowly since 70 years of its creation, whether it be in form of terrorist attacks on Sufis at Sehwan, persecution of its religious minorities according to Amnesty International  2016/2017 or mysterious disappearances of human rights activists like Salman Haider and others?