Yes, there is plenty going on TV to merit a media column. And yes, we’ve already covered the PTI enfant terrible Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chohan already.
But the spectacular train-wreck that the fellow’s political career is becoming deserves another look.
While flipping the channels, it became apparent that the Rawalpindi-based politician was removed from his position as deputy information secretary and organiser for the upcoming local Rawalpindi polls.
Chohan’s response: releasing an open video appeal to Imran Khan, who, Fayyaz tells us, is not listening to him and is being manipulated by the likes of Sheikh Rasheed.
In the video (which online readers can see) Chohan says he is upset that his leader did not even bother listening to his side of the story. Then, upping the ante, he says that if he is telling a lie, may he not get an eemaan wali maut and may both his wives be divorced from him.
Yes, I’ll let that sink in. Just the way down-on-their-luck gamblers at the seediest of dens bet their wives, though even there it is said to be a rarity.
He has been doing the rounds on the talk show circuit since that incident.
There was the I’m a tough man, but this made me cry.
The PTI’s response: they suspended even his basic membership from the party. Don’t wash our dirty linen in public, they meant.
Now the interesting thing in all this is not Chohan himself. For whatever it is worth, he was always going to be a middling politician who was likely never to go beyond a particular level because he would have been a little too uncouth even by the standards of our neck of the woods. If recent events have scuttled his political career, then it is good for him, being put out of his misery of a long career wistfully wanting something more.
The interesting thing is the fallout that didn’t show up on the mainstream media. It is the huge amount of support that Chohan got on social media by his fans in the aftermath of the incident, with some stalwarts saying they would rather stop supporting the PTI if the latter didn’t take him back.
Why does a man like Chohan, the most rude man on the talk show circuit, have this big a legion of followers? Because the youth army of the PTI have been reared on the rhetoric of Imran Khan, who has crafted an image of everyone-but-us-is-evil, unlike any other party leader. In their world-view, anyone who even exchanges pleasantries with representatives of other political parties is a sell-out.
Politics is the art of the possible. It is the science of getting along with people you don’t agree with and trying to move forward. Yes, since there are contests involved, politics has to get adversarial and tempers and voices will be raised. But the impression of getting things done has to be maintained.
In America, the opposition parties are at pains to give the media the impression that they are a friendly opposition. In Pakistan, the PTI chairman has made this a dirty word.
Videos abound on the internet of Fayyaz, being commented on by supporters of the PTI (if their profile pictures are any indication) cheering on actual shouting matches. Again: I am not talking about them cheering some logical argument that Chohan might have made. I am talking about shouting matches in which he sometimes starts reciting poems that have nothing to do with the issue at hand and sometimes starts spewing actual cuss words.
The times are what they are.