Indian social and mainstream media is abuzz with imagery of people protesting in the streets with signs carrying Priyanka Chopra’s crossed-out portraits and claims that American network ABC’s popular spy drama Quantico’s Hindu terror plot episode was a conspiracy by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). Now we know that this was not an innocent mistake or confidence of an empowered woman. This was a statement that she hates Modi, India & Hindus. She was signalling to the Anti-India brigade & ISI that she is ready to do their bidding. #PriyankaChopra #Quantico #QuanticoSlammed pic.twitter.com/M2C5jPpXk2 — KAI (@RasasViKa) June 8, 2018 Apparently, this Quantico project has been sponsored and financed by "India-breaking forces" or by some ISI supported NGO active in India.. — Sarath Chandra (@Chandra_Sarath1) June 7, 2018 The backlash and protest got to the point that the network had to apologise to the Indian people for the ‘negative portrayal’ and insisted that this was a work of fiction. But that was already understood, wasn’t it? Then how did it almost become a diplomatic crisis? Some say thanks to the strong Indian lobby. Pakistanis in this regard have an opinion too. As prominent Pakistani author Fatima Bhutto tweeted “Super. We’ll be here waiting for an apology from Homeland, 24, Tyrant, Rambo, Zero Dark Thirty, American Sniper, Munich…” Super. We’ll be here waiting for an apology from Homeland, 24, Tyrant, Rambo, Zero Dark Thirty, American Sniper, Munich… https://t.co/f98FEiyWvl — fatima bhutto (@fbhutto) June 9, 2018 It’s a fair point, isn’t it? I mean who doesn’t remember that one season of Homeland that was set in Pakistan? The pilot started with an Indian actor playing Waziristan boy and saying ‘Aap se mil kar meherbani hui’. That’s literally what you’d get when you put ‘pleased to meet you’ in Google Translate at the time. Then there were other issues, like most Pakistani characters were played by Arabs and Indians, and slummy locations in South Africa were supposed to look like Islamabad. It was cringing to watch that season and every time I would see the South African ‘Islamabad’, I would be like… have you even seen the real Islamabad? And then of course the Haqqani network entering the US embassy through a tunnel that no one knew existed and killing key US intelligence operatives – in real life, something of this magnitude would have resulted in Pakistan becoming the new Iraq. The set of Homeland in Capetown There were some Pakistanis who made it an issue at the time but they weren’t as violent. And of course we were told it’s just a work of fiction. One would be amazed at the level of Islamophobia and stereotypical Pakistani portrayal that the western media can get away with, just by saying that magical line; ‘it’s a work of fiction’. And no, we wouldn’t get an apology like the Indians did. Despite the fact that negative portrayal of Pakistanis in the media has created many problems for overseas Pakistanis, we didn’t see anyone carrying crossed-out portraits of Claire Danes and blaming foreign intelligence agencies as we did in this case. That said, India and Pakistan share a peculiar relationship. Us Pakistanis would probably do the same if Quantico showed a Pakistani terrorist trying to frame India, and Mahira Khan played the lead. Coming back to the original question: was the ISI behind this episode of Quantico? Probably not. But maybe there’s a lesson here for Pakistanis in the world: don’t be violent, and don’t take stereotypically negative depictions of your communities lying down either.