By Shazia Anwer Cheema
Anonymity and accessibility of social media have provided a free ground for hate speech and malignant propaganda. The extreme beneficiaries of this situation are those who have an unsubstantiated narrative.
While writing a research paper or even an opinion in print media, anonymity gets compromised and one does not write unauthentic, illogical, and manipulative discourse. The individuals and groups with personal self-serving agendas avoid verifiable platforms where their authenticity can be directly questioned, that’s why their preferred means of communication include, trends, and hashtags, based on cheap and deep fake.
It is always easy to inflict damage with hate speech, it serves two purposes; one it affects the population having no or minimal knowledge of the mechanism of deep and cheap fake, due to their ignorance or innocence take everything as it looks and become victims and later become part of hate-driven propaganda, the second purpose is a deviation from actual problems.
As a case study, we can take the example of former prime minister Imran Khan. It is noticeable to every keen observant that Imran Khan does not discuss the policies and agendas of his political party nor does he discuss what went wrong during his tenure and why Pakistan is on the borderline of bankruptcy, why CPEC is on halt, why IMF loans have multiplied due to his hasty moves, why his cabinet was unaware of diplomatic norms and list goes on.
Economic Hit Man, a US citizen that Imran Khan brought from IMF did his masterly job and Pakistan is fast moving towards Debt default, bankruptcy, and economic implosion as per strategies of anti-Pakistan forces. Soon Governor State Bank of Pakistan Raza Baqir would depart to his next assignment somewhere in IMF, probably in the United States. It was a suicidal decision of Imran’s government to opt for the 22nd IMF Program to seek a loan of US$6 billion, in return to add US$ 50 billion in debt to Pakistan! Too late now!!!
Instead of admission and reflection he comes up with yet another bizarre idea of an utterly irrelevant modality such as “there is a poison available which can give someone a heart attack”, “I have recorded a video”, “my video is being recorded”, “come out and ask”, “no one will marry their children”, “you will go to hell if you will not favor me”, “I was not saved that’s why there is chaos” etc. Examining critically one thing is very clear in Imran Khan’s discourse, that is the hate speech based on blame supported by a predominant discourse of us vs them, good vs evil. He spreads this narrative on platforms where he cannot be contested. He deliberately avoids facing the actual problems and provides a new nonsensical trend until he comes up with the next idea. He follows Aristotle’s communication model which is speaker-centered as the speaker has the most important and active role. Social media posts are also a part of this model because you post a message and do not indulge in further communication or discussion, then this message through echo chamber reaches like-minded people and they say get an adrenaline rush of self-proclamation, Wow—this is what I believe–.
Aristotle believes “Rhetoric” is one of the most important components of communication and persuasion and discourse should be made for different audiences in different situations to get desired effects to establish propaganda. Consistent rhetoric has been used widely by PTI for defaming state institutions and opponents by tagging them corrupt, cheaters, and sometimes, sinners for achieving political goals.
His speeches never make sense for a sensible person but provide catchy trends and hashtags like #Neutral, #Animal, #Imported, #Poison for heart attack, #Lotey, #Evil, #Chicken, and eggs, #Bhung harvest #Conspiracy, #Beggars are not choosers, etc. These catchy ideas create a bubble discourse that is easy to do and does not need extensive reasoning and evaluation. Masses either in favor or against these deliberately thrown ideas deflect from the actual events and problems.
After hitting hard state institutions like Judiciary and targeting the head of the Pakistan Army COAS Gen Qamar Bajwa but this strategy fail to create any impact, I believe the next top target of Imran Khan is the institution of the Army and therefore some former federal ministers of his cabinet are slowly but surely initiating that military is a privileged class, they live in separate colonies, they take special treatment in hospitals, they run awesome educational institutions on the cost of public exchequer where their sons and daughters get an excellent education while a common Pakistani has no access to such social and administrative systems. PTI, according to my understanding, will soon join the band of those who while sitting abroad write books, and articles and attend seminars against Pakistan and its state institutions. Soon we can see PTI female brigade will hit hard on Defence Housing societies, Askari projects, etc.
Imran Khan never in his public discourse discussed his last three years’ performance like a decent mature person let alone as a leader, his discourse is like a verbal punch of a lad who just punches his opponent, and runs away then reappears at some other point in time and throws few more punches and here he goes again. If ever in his life, he has to debate his narrative I am not sure what he will come up with. This is the reason he always invites his media aids who are already following him as a cult leader, who transcribe his words as divine document and spread his message like holy messengers. This is the new norm of journalism I am watching in Pakistan.
If Imran Khan’s illogical and irrational punches are for trends only then that would not concern me but the problem is that his slapstick farce does have an impact on his followers, we the nation who are once fans of Maula Jatt do not go for the rationality of that matter but we attract towards appearances, high claims, and bully gestures, our dilemma is that we take time to extract reality from fantasy, and that time is the real currency for Imran Khan. He must have been aware of the fact that he cannot distract us for a long from the actual blunders he had made and people will inquire about them eventually but he is trusting in the time frame available until his game is over. That’s why he emphasizes early rather than earliest general elections.
So what is his contingency plan apart from nonsensical catchphrases to deviate the public’s attention? In my understanding, he is counting on extreme polarization and direct confrontation between the general public and state institutions. I am writing about his discourse pattern for two years, in my last article, I explained how he is presenting himself as holy and divine and using biblical metaphors of good vs evil, simultaneously he will as an added value discuss state institutions/departments and trigger a trend or hashtag regarding privilege institution and underprivileged one. He will now initiate another Commedia dell’arte to justify his bad management and non-governance, he will take the stance that so and so the institution cannot function because of so and so institution.
In this next level of his cynical agenda, his hate machinery will spread hate about and among the state institutions. Why police department is always under budget because another institution is taking its share, why PIA is dysfunctional because of this or that department. The Health system has problems because of this department and the education system is decaying because of that department.
The formula he applies to his personal life now he is planning to apply to the entire state. He is thinking about drowning the entire country in the river of blame and shame. He is building national rhetoric of not excepting personal flaws and shortcomings but instead blaming something or someone for a twisted tarnished personality. As a nation according to Imran khan’s doctrine blame others for personal vendetta and never consider admission, repent, and reflection.
As always, he will throw a punch and runs away leaving a battleground for individuals to malign each other without any substantive proof which can be verified and cross-examine.
Imran Khan acts and behaves like the darkest conspiracy ever done against Pakistan. He with full conviction is engineering civil unrest in the country.
Note: Writer Shazia Anwer Cheema is a Prague-based 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.