Malaysian PM Mahathir's wife holds Pakistan PM Khan's hand, winning hearts and tickling netizens

VIDEO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

NEW DELHI (BERNAMA) - Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali has gained a new fan following in Pakistan and other places.

A video in which the Malaysian Prime Minister's wife asks visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan if she could hold his hand has been widely shared on social media.

"Sure," a smiling Mr Khan said in his response, prompting laughter from those present and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Many viewers considered that moment as the most pleasant highlight of Mr Khan's two-day visit last week.

Pakistani journalist Meher Bokhari called it the "cutest video ever", noting Dr Siti Hasmah's "girlish excitement" and Mr Khan's "boyish assent" to the hand-holding request at a photo shoot.

Ms Bokhari found the occasion "so fresh in the conventional and methodical world of diplomacy and politics".

One person on Twitter said: "I believe this simple yet elegant gesture is above all diplomacies."

Mr Hassan Choudary, who posted the video on his Twitter page, commented: "Ok now this is really cute. Malaysia's First Lady asks Prime Minister Imran Khan if she can hold his hand while being photographed."

The Pakistan Prime Minister tweeted at the end of his Malaysia visit: "I especially want to thank the gracious Mrs Mahathir Mohamad for the wonderful lunch she arranged for us."

Mr Khan's cricketing career made him an international star, but politics is a rough field where his country expects him to deliver in the face of rising economic challenges.

Becoming the prime minister of the world s second-most populous Muslim country is seen as a huge achievement in itself.

Mr Khan has been an ardent admirer of Tun Dr Mahathir's foreign policy and his economic management of Malaysia.

During a joint press conference with Dr Mahathir, he expressed the sentiment that the 93-year-old leader was someone to admire for leading Malaysia consistently for a long time.

"We look upon you as a statesman, someone who transformed his country. We have followed Malaysia's progress, especially since you came to office. We want to learn from your experience," Mr Khan said.

Dr Mahathir was closely watched and admired for his statesmanship in Pakistan and most Muslim countries during his prime ministership from 1981 to 2003.

His return as Premier after the 14th general election in May this year has generated similar public interest in his policies.

Dr Siti Hasmah has been a pillar of strength in her husband's political journey.

They met at the former King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore in 1947 and got married in 1956.

The hand-holding video generates a different kind of publicity in which Dr Mahathir and his wife are being seen in a charming light by Malaysia watchers.

"From now on, I am going to follow her more closely," said Istanbul-based academic Azize Boshnak.

Ms Boshnak said she was able to relate to the Prime Minister's wife from a Turkish cultural perspective as well.

"She looked very familiar to Turkish women who can also do such things comfortably because we have this comforting concept of brotherhood and sisterhood in our society. According to this, Tun Siti Hasmah is the 'abla' (elder sister in Turkish) who shows sympathy towards her younger brother."