The Akbar Zeb story: too good to be true

I wrote last week about Pakistan's High Commissioner to Canada Akbar Zeb's reported rejection as ambassador to Saudi Arabia due to the unfortunate Arabic translation of his name as "biggest dick." Alas, the story turns out to be false: Mr. Zeb has responded, saying that the press reports are nothing more than "a practical joke someone played on the Internet." Zeb denies that he was ever considered for an ambassadorial position in Saudi Arabia; lending credence to his account, he has only been stationed in Ottawa for nine months of a planned three-year assignment, and Pakistan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia is only four months into his tenure.

Maimoona Amjad, the press counsellor for Pakistan's High Commission in Ottawa, also confirmed to FP that the story was untrue. There is "no question that he will accept a post anywhere but Canada," she said, referring to the rumor as "completely baseless" and "rubbish."

The story seems to have originated with this Arab Times article, and spread like wildfire throughout the English-language press from there. Let this be a lesson: 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.


Quote of the day: chaos in Kiev

Ukrainian politics are really confusing:

"The main result of these elections is that Yanukovich came first, but did not win. Tymoshenko, on the other hand, lost but was not defeated," Ukrainska Pravda commentator Vadym Karasov wrote.

Got that?

Tymoshenko broke her post-election silence yesterday, attacking Yanukovych's campaign promises at a cabinet meeting but not discussing her future plans. Since Tymoshenko clearly has no intention of stepping down voluntarily and Yanukovych likely doesn't have the votes to dismiss her government, Ukraine appears set for another crippling political standoff.