The war of the narratives

Need to reduce tensions

PTI chief Imran Khan’s announcement of six public meetings before the so called Two Million March on Islamabad has provoked the PML(N) to announce its own schedule of counter rallies. On Friday the PTI held its first public meeting of the series in Mianwali while the PML(N) held a similar event in Attock. Mr Khan and PML(N) Vice-President Maryam Nawaz presented their respective narratives before their supporters.

Mr Khan claimed that his government had been brought down through a conspiracy engineered by the USA because he was implementing an independent foreign policy. The former PM took recourse to religious terms to achieve his political objectives. He described the ongoing tussle between the PTI and the ruling alliance as a battle between the righteous and the evildoers. He claimed he was fighting a  “jihad” against the leaders of the coalition government who according to him were dacoits and traitors. He asked the judiciary why it opened the courts at midnight but did not take suo motu action ‘against these people.’ Mr Khan called upon the public to teach a lesson to the PTI’s dissidents in case they dared to return to their constituencies.

At the PML(N) rally in Attock, Ms Maryam Nawaz rubbished Mr Khan’s claim of a foreign conspiracy to topple his government. Instead, she maintained that the real objective of Mr Khan’s march on Islamabad was is to save Farah Khan, who acted as a “front person” to secure bribes in different projects on behalf of the PTI leadership. According to her, Mr Khan wanted to take away attention from the PTI administration’s numerous financial scams by threats to march on Islamabad while demanding fresh elections. Henceforth the PML(N) is likely to aggressively pursue the narrative, adding further to the political temperature.

Two public meetings with two equally toxic narratives which are going to be propagated  in a dozen public meetings this month. The narratives will promote hatred and add to existing polarization. The two antagonists need to realise the negative impact of the ongoing confrontation on society at large before it is too late. The PTI should stop the rallies and call off Islamabad march. The ECP should hold the elections at the earliest after introducing electoral reforms. The PML(N) should concentrate on improvement of the economy instead of holding public meetings.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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