Khan, who recently delivered a passionate speech at the UN General Assembly, was accompanied by the country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi during a flight.
Dalrymple has written several books on the Indian subcontinent, including The Last Mughal, White Mughals, City Of Djinns.
In the picture, trending on Pakistani twitter on Sunday, Imran Khan can be seen reading Dalrymple’s ‘The Anarchy’ while Pakistan foreign minister is peeking over from his seat as if to find out what Khan is doing with his smart phone.
What book is he reading? 🤑 pic.twitter.com/VJGM3paobk— Syed Ali Zia Jaffery (@syedalizia1992) September 28, 2019
In a light-hearted remark, Dalrymple instead of recognising Khan as a prime minster, opted to term him as “some guy” and poked fun at Qureshi saying: “while his friend reads his WhatsApp messages”.
Newsflash: rare photo of man reading book on plane-- while his friend reads his WhatsApp messages-- goes viral in Pakistan...— William Dalrymple (@DalrympleWill) September 29, 2019
‘Some guy’ in shalwar kameez is reading The Anarchy https://t.co/eLiMwUdiEP
The photograph has elicited a mixed response on Pakistani twitter as Khan’s choice of book felt surprising to many since it is about how the British East India Company robbed the Indian subcontinent and took its wealth back to the UK. And more so, as Khan in his speech at UN General Assembly talked about people taking looting money out of developing nations and investing it in rich countries in the West.
Many others trolled him while observing that it felt like a staged photograph.
However, some of the most amusing reactions came after the Scottish historian and writer Dalrymple got involved.
I am your greatest fan but will delay reading The Anarchy until the hype created by this pic dies down. Don't want to be associated with these two khaki chamcha uncles😝— Fateh-ul-Mulk Ali Nasir (@FatehMulk) September 29, 2019
This is clearly just a photo op. A man of Imran’s intellectual “prowess” is more likely to read a tabloid more seriously. If he is so seriously reading the book, why is his phone still awake/on? #imrankhan— Le Maïs et Bleu (@essential_chaos) September 29, 2019
That might be his only genuine lesson in subcontinetal history. Dont spoil it. The guy is known for his historically historic gaffes otherwise— Joe Tipps (@TippsJoe) September 29, 2019
HaHa 😂. Now people in India may not pick up a copy of this book. Bad publicity for your book from India standpoint.— Anil Kachroo (@anil_kachroo) September 29, 2019
Many Pakistani twitter users, however, felt annoyed with Dalrymple calling Imran Khan “some guy”.
"Some guy" like your sarcasm....well it's not important whose book PM of PAKISTAN IMRAN KHAN is reading...He is reading the book that's privileged enough...— Simalak (@456Simalak) September 29, 2019
Correction: A great man in Shalwar Qameez is reading "some author's" book.— 🇵🇰 (@helloo_w0rld) September 29, 2019
Now this seems better 😂