PTI’s propaganda techniques | Pakistan Today

PTI’s propaganda techniques

Pathos and bathos

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society,” according to Edward Bernays, the man behind the idea that American war efforts in the World War I were meant to ‘bring democracy to Europe’, and the man behind the philosophy that the choices people make can easily be influenced because they are not rational but emotional. “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Imran Khan’s recent rise would not have been possible without the support of that “invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country”. The ways in which that invisible government has engineered public opinion in favour of a number of actors over several decades are so typical that they can now be identified in Imran Khan’s media campaign:

The 18-crore argument:

People are persuaded to make a choice because everybody else is making it too. People are told that a particular ideology, party or movement is winning because so many people have joined it that it is impossible for it to lose. This has two implications – one, that so many people cannot be wrong, and two, that if the subject does not join in, he or she will be left out.

This technique has recently been overused by a number of opposition political parties and journalists. Each one of them claims to represent 18 crore people, which is the entire estimated population of Pakistan. That leaves zero supporters for the popular political parties now in government.

Actually, of the 18 crore people who live in Pakistan, less than 8 crore are adults who can vote. About a fifth of them voted for the PPP in the last elections. Imran Khan, investigative journalists, and a politician from Rawalpindi who has lost elections twice in a row cannot represent 18 crore people.

Simple solutions:

Pakistan’s very complex problems are simplified by being blamed on one particular person or one particular policy. That person is usually the president.

For example, Imran Khan claims the sole and simple reason for corruption in governance is that the man on top, President Asif Zardari, is corrupt. On other occasions, for example when asked why he has welcomed politicians accused of corruption in his own party, he would say corruption is a complex problem and there are no angels. If Imran Khan cannot find honest politicians, how can Zardari?

Imran Khan’s party also claims terrorism will simply end if Pakistan stops cooperating with the United States. Pakistan’s policy of intervention in Afghanistan, the military’s ties with terrorist groups, and sectarian violence in Pakistan are seen as irrelevant.

Ideology of Pakistan:

The Ideology-of-Pakistan technique involves use of words and phrases linked to concepts that have high emotional value. When political premises are linked to such terms as the ideology of Pakistan, honour and sovereignty, they are approved without thinking. That also makes it impossible for political rivals to question the validity of such arguments because they do not want to hurt public sentiment.

Imran Khan says he will make Pakistan an ‘Islamic welfare state’. It is impossible for a popular politician in Pakistan to disagree with that, or to ask what an Islamic welfare state is and what interpretation of Islam and what welfare mechanism he is talking about. He is free to interpret Islam the way it suits him, and anybody who questions his interpretation will be seen as questioning Islam.

Celebrity endorsement:

A number of popular musicians have recently endorsed Imran Khan, not because they believe any particular solutions he has proposed would work, but as a matter of lifestyle and using such keywords as youth, vigour, passion and future.

What they say in Imran Khan’s favour might as well have been said verbatim about any other political party in Pakistan. A song that says ‘Dehshatgardi Murdabad’ – or death to terrorism (sic!) – is tautological. Another one that says all politicians are corrupt and Pakistanis are fed up can be played at virtually any political gathering, including those in the ruling alliance.

Quaid-e-Azam’s heir:

A form of this propaganda technique was used by the PPP when it would call its opponents ‘Zia ki Baqiyaat’ – the remains of Zia. Lately, Imran Khan’s public meetings feature Jinnah and Iqbal on one side of the stage backdrop and Imran Khan on the other, to suggest he is the successor of the founding fathers.

It took Quaid-e-Azam many years to rise to the position where he could claim to be a representative of a majority of Muslims in India, and eventually of all Pakistanis. Somehow, his hard work and shrewd moves were all transferred to Imran Khan, who began his political career as the chairman of the party of which he was the only key member for about 10 years.

What Imran Khan’s rivals in government have not been able to understand so far is, “The best defence against propaganda,” according to Edward Bernays, was “more propaganda.”

The writer is a media and culture critic and works at The Friday Times. He tweets @paagalinsaan and gets email at h[email protected]

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  1. king mir said:

    simply idiotic article………………………….. the writer should vote in zardari and sharifs as they are both corrupt and"

  2. Usman Sher said:

    Quite simply an anti PTI article. How people can support the cycle of currupt dynasties is beyond belief. Imran represents hope. The other parties represent the satus quo. I would rather elect a Prime Minister whos policy fail then to be represented by sombodies son who is there due to his fathers wishes. How many Pakistanies leave our country to make money for other countries and how many bring there money here for investment. Imran is damned if he does and damned if he doesnt.

    • nevermind said:

      lol you mean Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Khurshid Kasuri represent change?

  3. zia said:

    Just one word for this article….Pathetic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Sarfaraz said:

    Thanks Commentators I was about to read this article. Now I will not Waste my time

  5. XeeKay said:

    Good points bur cannot be applied on PTI…Yes these are the tricks but used for positivism not for that negativism which writer has in his mind… It is but for goodness.

  6. Muddassir said:

    Yaar Harris Bhai, let's take IK/PTI out of policital landscape for a moment and pls enlighten us with the solutions to our problems. Let us hear what do you have to offer.. Let's start writing articles and tackle each of our nation's main issue one by one.

    PS: you should be thankful to IK that at least u got some readership becuase of him, otherwise poeiple like you were filling webspace by writing blogs that no one read..:) sorry if it hurts.

    • nevermind said:

      simple solution. remove zardari, everything will perfect like it was when he was in jail. back to all the doodh ki nehrain flowing since 1947

  7. salma said:

    how naive. get this cap off. allow oxygen to your brain chiknay

  8. Haroon said:

    I don't understand why its become so cool all of a sudden to bash IK. Mr Author, so you write an article full of critical comments regarding PTI, well question for you: what is the alternative??

    Do you want teenda Shareef or perhaps luteray PPP walay back in the govt? No, then who else? Give me one alternative we have other than Imran Khan . You can't .. so please shut the hell up and stop wasting this online paper's web space and our time.

    • efaz said:

      MQM brother
      look at the time when they were in Power in Karachi
      they changed the city infrastructure

  9. MK1 said:

    I dont see why we need IK when Zardari and Nawaz are doing such a good job. Keep up the good work guys,you are making the nation proud with your great deeds.

  10. MK1 said:

    I knew you would put "great article" on the website but not the truth.

  11. trooper said:

    Time for change of system, not mere change of faces.
    Time for Khilafah

  12. Sohail Shah said:

    if invisible govt supports pti for good of country… then so be it… Pak is guarded by that invisible govt.. not by so called democracy

  13. Mahamness said:

    As much as um pained to realize this is actually what 'youth' is deliberately falling for, um happy someone pointed out – yet again!

    Excellent points

  14. Ali Mahmud said:

    lolzz…another wannabe genius trying to shine on the media.. get a life and do something tangible for this country … we are not short of pseudo intellectuals…

    • Chamchaa said:

      I guess expressing a general form of truth in Pakisan which mildly negates the common delusion that the "pakistani-islamic-nation" suffers from, just pointing it out is pretty great service to the country.

  15. sana said:

    The writer is Biased and on Payroll of Some party OR Group, acheiving their Agenda. He Presented Analysis =, Totally in illogical manner and Made May Claims without any reason and evidence without proper backing.. He made a very cheap mistake and committed injustice to this Noble Profession i.e. Journalism !!!!

    • Usman said:

      well said, off all PTI supporters know of writers, anchors, critics to be on payrolls of other parties, accurate knowledge eihter you n your kind are pros in the same field or the fact that like all PTI supporters just cant face criticism, and start hurling accusations at anybody and everybody… a thing called patience has never actually been a part of your virtue, because if it had then maybe you wouldn't have been blinded by this ill-love, and been able to accept criticism perhaps evaluate rationally.

  16. justab said:

    I missed badly two horns on the head and obama ears:) simply idiot…

  17. Cyma Salman said:

    Guys! Do NOT waste your comments on this useless piece of crap! He and his lame ideas are not worthy of your time and energy! Mr Haris : Go back to your monkey business – you will do wonders where you talent can actually flourish!

  18. Zainab said:


  19. ThoughtFelon said:

    Another twink looking for 15 mins of fame. I suggest you follow your instinct!

    • Imnotkhan said:

      its the writer's sixth attempt (albeit all pretty successful) at 15 minutes of fame by showing a different side of Im-da-Dim, so by simple rules of mathematical addition the writer got 90 plus minutes of fame, much more than what he bargained for and far exceeding the proverbial 15 mins!

      Think about it, thought felon…

  20. shoaib said:

    dont care about Propaganda , i ask about options do we have one ? Leaders are tested people not leaders by crises , unfortunately we have plenty of Crises one rather than tested.Govt . Khan is tested in many ways , no body can question his honesty . Khan brought fame to pakistan and Zardari and his clan brought shame to Pakistan. PTI backed by Establishment is reverse propaganda by Nawaz n PPP because they cant tolerate it supporting some one else than old coats .When they support them then it is ok other wise it is blame for any one supported by establishment .We should give PTI one chance if they deliver , fine other wise replace them in next election ..This is what democracy is ..Everything cant be perfect in blink of an eye ..

  21. Ali Mahmud said:

    The writer is a clear wannabe… give reference to a few so called "classy" (this is how they perceive it and expect others to do the same) articles and become a main stream critic…how pathetic is that…look at his age…i am sure he doesn't even know the A's and B's of political dynamics in Pakistan and is targeting someone like IK based on mere assumptions…hey kid, get a life, Pakistan does not need yet another political analyst.. it needs contributors who can do something to bring a positive change in the lives of ordinary people… more than 60% of the population cannot even read this article…

  22. Naeem Ahmad said:

    When you play with others cap (like PTI), they must mention your cap.

  23. Raza said:

    Very well written Harris. Our State has fed the 'Islamic Ideology' propaganda for decades now, looks like its finally materializing now because of the crap they feed to us on TV all day.

    Its amazing how people can be fooled into believing that the same people will act differently just because they are in a different organization now. Sad years ahead for Pakistan.

    I have been arguing with people for years how useless their blogging attempts are if they want to be activists. Its TV, stupids. Its TV!!! No one reads in this country, no one!

  24. salman said:

    i must say the stupid most and fame captivating effort by a real cheapo……

  25. Rizwan said:

    Harris saab knows getting large number of comments is easier on any PTI related column, so he has to write on this topic weather he knows any thing about PTI or not.

    • nevermind said:

      lol you are adding to the comments – are you also on the payroll of Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari?

  26. Waseem said:

    Excellent article, pointed out all the relevant points. I don't know why people can't read anything objectively. Why anyone writing analytically (about one party) has to be biased/on payroll or something.

  27. Saleem Abid said:

    PTI supporters have not replied against his arguments…just saying 'Pathetic" is not enough…bring some logic, argument, or some facts against Munawwar…just calling him names show the poverty of ideas from PTI fans…!

  28. Hrabbani said:

    Anyone who will write against this article will be termed as PTI supporter. While a neutral comment is that one should refrain from doing something he doesnt have knowledge or mature enough. World is never been changed by realists who think that anything couldn't be done, can't be done. I can write a whole lot to respond point wise but don't think the article worth that much.

    • PTI-Jayalaa said:

      Please do, to shut up these stupid critics of our great leader Imran Khan.

  29. Adeel said:

    by writing anti-PTI articles the people trying to pose them as intellectual that they are so inteelect that current wave of IK support cannot effect them.

  30. ashraf ali said:

    he is trying to be different ……..bcz writing for good cause is difficult and its easy to have negative approach…….

  31. A British Pakistani said:

    Mr "Harris Bin Munawar". I wonder what your qualification is to write an article like this. Look at the state of Pakistan today and compare it with neighbours. Even bangladesh is leaving Pak far behind. IF a person like IK is tackling problems head on then as a yound pakistani why being so crictical. Surely you rec'd some Dosh from zardari/Sharif Camps to change some minds BUT YOU HAVE FAILED miserably reding from comments. GROW UP

    • Mahamness said:

      Being a 'yound' Britich Pakistani, you must first use the correct 'English'

  32. Yasser Masood said:

    Bull crap, read his latest book first… fundamentally all complex issues have very simple solutions… but that's something you can't grasp…

  33. Tariq said:

    Whats the point boy? dont see any thing substantial in the article.

  34. tayyaba rana said:

    very right analysis. anybody who has some political can understand this technique.

  35. shafqat said:

    wonderful article. Imrani fascists cannot refute him but they would only resort in their stubborn rejection of every thing that goes against their cult leader, mullah Imran khan

  36. shafqat said:

    Great work Haris. The rejections are only cultish narcissism and they cannot refute your articulated arguments….,

    • Ali said:

      lolzz….like you said…"Everything that goes against their cult"…similar to how you are reacting to the comments…Imrani Fascists…what a joke…who do you vote for?
      Altaf Bhai, NAwaz Sharif, Zardari…. why dont you give us a hint and enlighten us with your wisdom..

  37. Shahid Khan said:

    Well our youth is fool now a days, they love music, concert, and those people who can only criticize others, like imran khan, i have heard people say Imran khan is the last hope, and still they call themselves muslim.. they should be shamful.
    It is an awesome Article.. and i'm not against Imran khan but the way he is makin people full make me against him

  38. Aliya Tirmizi said:

    Nice analysis. But you failed to mention that PTI is using support of establishment as well. I was a strong PTI supporter but after Legharis, Kasuris, Tareens, Qureshis and Bosans joined this party and about to hijack it, I have stopped trusting PTI as well. How can PTI bring change with these Mushrraf team members. I will not vote anyone now.

  39. Aqeelzam said:

    True Mr Writer 🙂
    PTI Lovers are not able to digest this article, after all SACH TO KARWA HI HOTA HAI

  40. Zomail said:

    After reading the comments i decided not to read the article, but eventually i end up reading it and now i am feeling dumb for wasting my precious 5 mins.

    Random anti PTI comments.

  41. Usman said:

    Good article Harris, nice effort, I mean the fact finding comparison and analysis were nice but your writing skills are on an amature level. However don't be discouraged, keep it up and take notice of healthy criticism, inorder to improve your skills. A word of advise, it doesn't matter how great or unknown a writer is, whats matters is his integrity of how he/she speaks/writes the truth, follow your heart and never be discouraged by extremists,

  42. Gilla Nai said:

    "Time is money !!" You wasted my precious time …. send me ur address, I want reimbursement !!!!!

  43. Imran Rashid said:

    Dear keep it up, just look at the dejected politicians gathering around him, all were a part of their old parties since so many years, jumping from one party to another. Alone IK can,t do any thing changed with such a " choon choon ka muraba:

  44. Rapchik said:

    Mian Sahb jaan diyo…………Ab kisi bhikkari khaal chor ko aaan diyo

  45. jahanzaib said:

    totol flop article, with flop idealogy, flop explanations and flop writer… Lol what a wastage of time…!!

  46. Derrick said:

    Just in, The Onion reports that Harris Ben Man-o-war is being funded by Zionist lobby, to maintain the balance of power in the region by destabilizing the stable foot athlete.

  47. saqlain said:

    so true,i totally agree with you mr writer.
    in good 15 years of strugglr imran khan didnt produce 1 single leader which he can place infront as an electable one.
    you pathetic that we are expecting change from makhdoms,laghar's,tarens.bosan's,khan's etc etc

  48. asma ahsan said:

    you are not clear about your thoughts and views regarding PTI. there is no clearity in your article!

  49. peezoo said:

    Decent post, and good analysis of PTI campaign techniques, though if his popularity has skyrocketed recently, he must be doing something right. Maybe he's figured out that this drama dhamaal showbaazi is the only way to do politics in Pakistan and that's how it works… This just points to the fact that electoral politics is a circus in Pakistan, but its not too different anywhere else in the world either.

    My only concern with your piece is that you might have overanalyzed the Laal band's song to a degree of saturation here:

    "A song that says ‘Dehshatgardi Murdabad’ – or death to terrorism (sic!) – is tautological."

    Tautological is simply too big a word to describe such an overly simplistic idea…

  50. moeed said:

    its pathetic article i wasted my precious time
    get the life u looser

  51. adeel said:

    Nothing to comment on it. Nothing in article. About 18 PML-Q MNA/MPA have joined PML-N and further Musharraf league memeber like Ejaz ul Haq, Humayyun Akhtar, Saleem Saifullah, Sh Rasheed, Kashmala Tariq, Sumera Malik is about to alliance. PML-N kai usool pata nahi akahn gai. I am expecting Ch Shujaat soon.

  52. Mueed said:

    very well researched, based on facts, over all a very well written

  53. K.S. said:

    If, according to Mr. Munawar himself, these are tools used by all politicians, why just give examples from PTI – why forget all the other politicians? And if these tools are used universally, shouldn't a more content-oriented approach would be to focus on what differentiates PTI from the others rather than merely state what is 'universal' anyway.

  54. Noreen said:

    PTI supporters are blind, duff and dumb, they can’t see the truth which is in front of them.

  55. shabir said:

    so if you do not vote PTI then You have to choose Zardari or Nawaz sharif zardari baating almost ended but nawaz sharif remain now what you suggest an educated person or 4 times already used person.

  56. PTItoru said:

    PTI supporters are more sensitive than my last girlfriend.

  57. Raheem Bukhsh said:

    I am damn sure that even this dude is going to vote for PTI (Imran Khan) because after all you cant give your future in the hands of Zardari no matter how much you are against Imran Khan. Can You? Sharifs are much better may be they are also honest not involved in personal corruption as current PPP regime is but they have are short sighted when it concerns about the demand of situation. We need radical change upfront and they cant offer it. Also today what pakistan needs is enthusiasm like a teenager, vision like an eagle and courage like a lion. Nobody has it except Imran Khan . Wish you good luck in coming elections for the sake of my own future and coming generation.

  58. kami said:

    oo lucky me saved my time i know this article is full of bull* …..

  59. junaid12345678 said:

    Really Great article ,I 100 percent agree to This , and the Politics of IK is totaly based on baseless propaganda 's and myths speacilly against PML N he dont have a point against in it ,where 5000 rs tax myths gone after the real figures were disclosed , and his recent politics is all ful of u turns ,i use to respect him but IK lost it ,now i better say him Liar Khan ,and what you have wrote is an artical of high class ..i m deaply impress .Hats off.

  60. khalid said:

    We totally agree with writer, with dirty garbage no change can come.

  61. Khan said:

    Absolutely pathetic piece. Poorly written and highly unsubstantiated. Please choose another career. Judging by your picture, a circus freak or clown would be highly fitting.

  62. Wamiq Haider said:

    To everyone who're defending PTI by throwing off low blows, can you please explain PTI's stance in similar and decent manner

  63. PakiKaka said:

    Excellent analysis and article… but all these people who are criticising you are the victim of the same stuff yo've written in your article about emotional fools… these people are sheep and go anywhere which looks and sounds good but won't use their brain to ask questions… Great job, keep it up

  64. Umair Saeed said:

    dude… as long as it pays for the cheap merchandise you put on your head; keep writing the crap you are so good at now.

    word of advice though: you can hide your agenda by writing more creatively and sounding more neutral while bashing whoever you are paid to. this is why its called a "hidden" agenda silly 🙂

  65. ali said:

    kisi bhi jhoot ko agar sach sabit karna hey to us ko itna biyan karo k woh sach mehsoos honey lag jay it is a Agenda of PTI

  66. Ahmad said:

    Nice article based on some realities that one should accept. Although it seems an effort made to defame and minify the vote bank of PTI at some extent. What ever the ground realities are and how bitter the truth is, Nation has suffered allot and paid countless amount for their wrong decision in selection of current so called democratic government.

  67. jav_h said:

    plz visit PTI sectt in Islamabad and only sit there for half an hour u will come to know who is behind him…..only ppl

  68. Muneeb said:

    Who lets such people write and then publishes their work too, what a hopeless burger!!

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