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Thursday, August 18, 2022
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Be careful – it’s not so easy now

There are awful floods which were never experienced like this during the last thirty years by the nation, there are Corona and other fatal diseases and at the top of it there is grave economic havoc, price hikes, scarcity of food items, and worsened rupee’s value. The nation is in a state of wilderness. People are helpless in the face of negative waves of insecurity and uncertainty. The ugly face of it is that the government people who have the major responsibility on their shoulders are busy in the blame game. All of the big mouths of politicians are busy day and night blaming opponents and declaring them guilty of illegal and unconstitutional practices. Coalition partners of the Federal Government are consuming all of their energies in tarnishing Imran Khan’s image. Imran Khan was successful in his agenda of blaming foreign intervention for the ousting of his government. His narrative of “imported government” also got popularity. His followers confess that this stance gave them a height of popularity. People who were angry with their government because of the price hikes stood behind his narrative. This was something for which preparing a rebuttal was considered crucial by the government coalition. They were not satisfied with a narrative less than Imran Khan’s foreign “secret linkages” and foreign funding, etc. For this purpose, they found ECP the best hope where a case was already under investigation against Imran Khan and his party. They “appeached” the election commission for an early decision in this regard.
On the other hand, Imran Khan has been continuously demanding the resignation of the Chief Election Commissioner on the plea of different cases of the commission which were given against his party. After the decision in the foreign funding case, a bitter war of words started between the political groups of Shahbaz Sharif and Imran Khan. Defenders are going to the high court with their cases. Propaganda campaigns have been started from both sides with full vigour. In their propaganda, Imran Khan’s people are putting the decision as shallow and devoid of any rationale, which couldn’t prove any foreign funding at all, and is in contrast to the Apex court’s instructions and based on prejudice. They label it as a media trial of PTI done during the last many years for maligning the neat and clean politics of Imran Khan. It has been concluded without proving a penny’s illegal transfer. The foreigners whose funds were shown transferred in favour of PTI, the majority of them have appeared on the TV screen with a claim that they are Pakistani and have a Pakistani ID and a passport. They pay all taxes, including income tax.
PTI leaders claim that it is the only political party that has maintained full records of its income and money transfers, whereas all other political leaders or their dynasties sell their tickets for different constituencies and collect huge amounts with the label of party funds for doing undue favours to business and industry. Party heads blackmail and threatens the rich people, getting party funds from them and keeping them in their personal wallets. But there is no such practice in PTI. In its rallies, people are not brought after paying daily wages. Most of them are from enlightened families. They come with their families, including children and ladies, to join in the rallies. They bring their food with them. Sometimes, some rich people, having sympathies with the party, arrange buses for the participants, and some like to serve food also. PTI leaders are not plunderer politicians who, after coming into power, collect piles of money from the country and take it abroad, feeling it safer there. Imran Khan has said that PTI will approach the Supreme Judicial Council against the CEC. He also accused ECP of being involved in a conspiracy against his party. Imran Khan rejected the ECP’s ruling in PTI’s prohibited funding case as “rubbish” and disrespectful of PTI. He claimed that they had made two reports and one was added to someone’s wishes, which said that PTI was foreign-funded. But this is mentioned nowhere else except at the end. He called for a probe into the funding of other political parties. He said that free and transparent elections were the only way out of the crisis.
On the other hand, the politicians, who are part of the coalition government, have become very rude and stern. They are taking the Election Commission’s decision as their great victory. From their side, ministers and parliamentarians have arranged dozens of press conferences and TV and Twitter statements. In a cabinet meeting, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the verdict of ECP had proved that Imran was a foreign agent and PTI a foreign-aided political party. He took money to pollute Pakistan’s politics and infused hatred into it. He said that the federal cabinet would decide against him today. The foreign agent will be dealt with. Maulana Fazlur Rehman called for swift proceedings against the former prime minister and his party. Mr. Bilawal Zardari said the ECP’s decision proved that Imran Khan is the biggest thief in the country’s history. He alleged that taking funds from foreigners and at the same time raising slogans of foreign conspiracy was sheer hypocrisy of the PTI’.
In fact, coalition government people have been under great pressure because of the serious corruption NAB cases involving billions of rupees. These cases are very strong grounds for Imran Khan and PTI’s allegations of corruption. Imran Khan and PTI’s campaigns and stern attitude really have unnerved them. Along with that, they have started retreats in political games also. In this environment, ECP’s report is a straw in the hands of a drowning person. It has provided them with a base for bursting at once with heavy guns of propaganda and a show of the powers which they have had while sitting in the Federal Government. One can’t say how smartly they avail this opportunity and how far PTI folks will turn this game around. But despite the propaganda bombardment, one cannot deny the popularity of Imran Khan, who lives in the hearts of crores of people in this country. His party’s fall would mean the sinking of crores of people’s hearts and the destruction of the people’s faith in the present system of power and the people working behind the curtains. This is an era that provides all sorts of information from all sides to all the strata of society. Our greedy and corrupt politicians and their employees don’t have any capacity to change people’s minds. I have been in the game of designing communication strategies for development that are certainly not political communication.
But I know communication better than anyone in Pakistan. I have taught this subject and researched in this field for more than fifty years. On an occasion, I won a world competition for designing the communication strategy (Technical Report) for the countrywide communication (IEC) Program of NDP, WAPDA. I have served as a communication consultant for the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, Research and Analysis Committee, where my designed communication strategies worked successfully. With this background, and as a journalist and close observer of the country’s politics and with my continual active attachment with think tanks and on the ground of my American education, I would like to warn the top brass of the country that these are very tough times for the lower and middle classes of the country, for the reasons known to all of us, and the old people like me are also determined to stand by the truth, come what may, if some hidden hands try to destroy the leftover faith of the people in the system.
It will not destroy their courage and determination to clean up all the dirt. People will not be easily subdued this time. The enemy is also watching us closely and playing its role in the endeavour of upsetting everything. If sane, justifiable, and timely decisions are not taken by the institutions, the people will stand by the honest people, not with plunderers and not with tyrant forces. Disheartened people can go in any direction, but their hands will be on the necks of the usurpers. One very serious point to be noticed by us all is that Pakistani immigrants are very active all over the world for the prosperity and solidarity of their beloved country. Now, after ruining the national interests, fleeing the country with huge wealth is not so safe. Such people will be cursed by all the Pakistani immigrants everywhere and forever.

With 50 years of teaching experience, Professor Dr. Shafiq Jullandhry, a noted writer and author of award-winning books, is former chairman of Punjab University’s Mass Communication Department (now School of Communication Studies); also heads Elaaf Club and Pakistan Media Guild as president. He can be reached at drjullandhry@yahoo.com



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