By Shazia Anwer Cheema
According to the researchers, Andrey Fomin and Elizaveta Mona; Manipulative verbal influence is an essential feature of communication. Successful realization of the suggestive aspect allows the speaker to exert influence on the recipient’s worldview and ingrain certain ideological attitudes in their mind.
This type of discourse can be used by populists and social influencers to employ their desired outcomes. Imran Khan, being a Populist, had been manipulatively influencing the youth and now the children by conscious use of hate, anarchy, bloodshed, and distrust of the system. He is using linguistic means of social mind alteration, he is systematically using new metaphors to attain persuasion, the metaphors which are extreme in nature and filled with fascist/extremist ideas. He practically avoids resolution and spread chaos and distress in society. Van Dijk explains Linguistic manipulation, as a hidden verbal influence on a recipient intentionally making them confused concerning the initial meaning and contents of the speech.
I will come later with the process of this linguist manipulation, first have a look at Imran Khan’s latest attempt; a poem sung by two boys aged 8-10 in front of Imran Khan while he was sitting cross legs on a sofa. The small boys are articulating ideas such as “we will kill” “we will destroy” we will not tolerate” and “We will burn”, more over the word blood is used more than one time. Although Imran Khan’s intentions would have been that if somebody crosses his path he will be killed destroyed etc., but the poem has its own metaphorical projection. This requires an understanding of the human meaning-making process and conceptual metaphor.
Conceptual metaphors are defined as clusters of cross-domain mappings in thought. They are used to understanding one conceptual domain in terms of another conceptual domain. In political discourse, conceptual metaphors are used to frame issues and influence public opinion. Complete cross-space mapping of the language of the poem is revealing that the target domain is Pakistan’s system, institution, and innocent people but the Source domain is Imran Khan.
Imran Khan while using the core ideals of society, such as integrity, solidarity, and resistance puts himself at the center stage, he conditions national integrity and self-esteem with his own survival, and his public discourse is replete with the manipulative metaphoric projection where he cultivates truth from the existing realities. Imran Khan put himself and the sovereignty of Pakistan in a single frame that’s why whatever is true for the stability of a sovereign state is true for himself. He combines the safety of the nation and his personal safety in one frame and then crafts a discourse that allows him relatability.
The poem I am referring to is discussing ideas that have already been used but in a national/patriotic context, such as
Wo sang-e-gran jo hael he
Rastey sey gira kar dam ley gey
Ham rah-e-wafa key rahru he
Manzil hi pe ja key dam ley gey
Apparently, a patriot is saying that we as a nation will cross all the hurdles and will reach our destination, in a broader context the destination could be the prosperity and glory of a nation but here by putting himself in the frame, he literally and metaphorical both the cross space mapping between destination and the hurdles in the way get replaced by the Imran khan being in the power and all those who are creating a problem for him are hurdles. For a single glance, it could seem like a little political stunt but in reality, its implications are much deeper. Remember Imran Khan is not propagating some random heroic fantasies rather he is using Pakistan’s core narrative by eliminating nationhood and putting himself as nationhood. Pakistanis as a nation are resilient and patriotic, imagine if being patriotic starts giving the connotation of being faithful to Imran Khan and resilience being a resisting force against anything opposing Imran Khan, coming back to the point that Imran Khan projecting himself as a nation, country, loyalty, patriotism and replacing the concept of Pakistan.
Ham bazam-e-jahan mehkaen gey
Ya khoon me naha ker dam ley gey
Arbab-e-hakoomat sey keh do
Jo haq key muqabil aaye ga
Ham us ko mita ker dam ley gey
A cult leader nurturing the children of the nation with this rhetoric, where Imran Khan is HAQ (truthfulness) ultimate truth and young boys are being prepared to take a blood bath to save the cult leader “a savior”.
Linguistic means of social mind alteration, or the thoughtful use of language to influence people’s views, emotions, and behaviors, can be dangerous when used improperly or with malicious intent.
Here are some reasons why:
Manipulation: When people use linguistic means to modify their social mind, they are essentially attempting to manipulate others into thinking or doing something. This can be dangerous when the intention is to deceive or mislead others for personal gains, such as saving Imran Khan means saving Pakistan.
Control: Language can be used to exert control over others, by creating and enforcing social norms, expectations, and hierarchies. This can be particularly harmful when it leads to discrimination, oppression, or exploitation of vulnerable groups. The projection of Imran Khan being an avatar or a mythical legend puts him in a higher place and enforces a new set of norms in which he is supreme.
Propaganda: Linguistic means of social mind alteration can be used to spread propaganda, which is a form of communication that aims to promote a particular political or ideological point of view. Propaganda can be used to manipulate public opinion and justify unethical or immoral actions, such as not obeying the law and bullying the state institution.
Polarization: Language can be used to create divisions between different groups of people, by emphasizing differences and promoting a “Us versus Them” mentality. This can lead to polarization, conflict, and even violence.
As we can see that Imran Khan’s manipulative discourse has put Pakistan in constant chaos and Pakistani youth have been mind-altered to disrespect and slur everything their cult leader opposes now the children of the nation are being brainwashed by a twisted concept of patriotism, sovereignty, and integrity.
Note: Writer Shazia Anwer Cheema is an author, columnist, and foreign affairs expert who writes for national and international media. She is a doctoral student and researcher in semiotics and philosophy of communication at Charles University in Prague. She can be reached at her: Twitter @ShaziaAnwerCh Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.