PTI snatched Punjab from PML-N Do not justify your defeat, please
AFTER a shocking defeat in Punjab by-elections, PMLN is posing itself as a sombre, humble, and decent child who believes in all norms written in curriculum books.
PMLN says that defeat in by-elections was not a big defeat for PMLN because it had no candidates to field in seven out of 20 constituencies in the 2018 general election where by-elections were held on July 17, 2022.
Providing data to media experts, PML said it got 697,800 votes in 2018 from these seats and now it got 826,468 votes and bagged four seats with an increase of 128,668 votes.
PMLN indirectly sent a message that it also did not use state-run media like PTV, APP, and Radio Pakistan for campaigning or launching anti-PTI campaigns although it had all skillful persons sitting in these institutions since the PTI era who could dent PTI if they were allowed to do by the PMLN government.
All experts and observers believe that by-elections were fair and free but Chairman PTI and former Prime Minister Imran Khan after winning 15 seats, in is address demanded the resignation of the Chief Election Commissioner blaming him for rigging.
He also accused the Punjab government of using official machinery for pre-poll rigging. PMLN apparently did everything to please PTI and state institutions by holding seemingly free and fair polls but had to face the same accusations that were expected from PTI by the majority of political analysts.
The landslide victory of PTI in Punjab and virtually snatching Lahore from PMLN must be appreciated and must be researched by students and practitioners of political science and media studies.
I believe that by snubbing the establishment, slurring opponents and threatening state institutions Imran Khan has attracted the masses and his strategy did work.
The old narrative of PMLN “Vote Ko Izat Do” was not present in the PMNL campaign but it was snatched by PTI.
PMLN named several personalities and accused them of throwing away former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but new brand names used by PTI were Neutrals, Animals, Mr. X or Mr Y or Z.
Nawaz Sharif cannot be appeared on television screen even on state-run but Imran Khan was free to use his diction at every television screen.
So what do we learn from the PTI campaign as students of media? The narrative building needs branding and tagging different events and people with catchy words that PMLN had miserably failed to do so.
As I have mentioned above that PML-N also failed to manage the state-run media outlets to reinforce its narrative, PTV and Radio Pakistan was operating under the mindset of the previous government of Imran Khan, and no major shuffling and reappointment have been made to ensure that PTI remains on key seats must be removed.
PMLN did not seem to bother that Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan can be utilized effectively for narrative construction, the mindset of PTI was highly present there.
The PMLN anti-Establishment narrative was high jacked by PTI because PMLN opted to revisit their stance and gave the pulse that they have no problem with the establishment.
On the other hand, PTI wanted to be in the supreme office in November 2022 to ensure their deal.
Who knows that PTI is targeting a few chosen ones in the Establishment and ruthlessly cursing them but behind the shadows, there are others in the same Establishment who are not in a mood of giving up and will go to any length to restore Imran Khan’s power to ensure their power in November.
The narrative based on catchphrases such as A or B Traitor, and Go A or B was preamble for November.
The drift inside the Establishment gives room for ambiguity and PMLN even knowing that failed to sell it.
The slang of “Absolutely Not” and “Neutrals are animals” are for the specific ones in the Establishment.
Some circles close to the Establishment claim that a group within the Establishment is still by the side of Imran Khan and that’s why even Establishment tools failed to counter PTI’s defaming slur brigade.
I only have one logical conclusion for that; along with PTV, Radio Pakistan and official mouthpieces of the Establishment were also being operated by those who have a deep affection for Imran Khan, and nobody care to redeploy or shuffle for the sake of pro-state narrative and it was deliberate negligence to give space to the PTI’s abusive narrative to rout and re-rout.
I am an apolitical person, therefore, my only concern is to see how the Establishment will restore its relevance in society now.
By loosening the leash of PTI’s malignant propaganda Establishment has dug a hole for itself.
November is not far and will not last forever, history in the making is smiling and looking at those who have to climb out of this gutter for their own survival, history is smiling for the fact that how eagerly they dug a hole for themselves and then let PTI fill it with filth by standing and watching.
—The writer is a Prague-based author, columnist and foreign affairs expert who writes for national and international media.