By Shazia Anwer Cheema
PTI has announced a donation campaign for a rescue mission, and I find this rescue mission triangular in nature. As we can feel the absence of PTI’s abusive and ugly rhetoric is a clear indication of the demise of three aspects PTI primarily was functioning on. I will explain all three elements one by one.
Erosion of Group Psychology
PTI’s fundamental building block is providing a sense of belonging and satisfying the group psychology by creating a phenomenon of “Us versus Them”, good versus evil, old Pakistanis vs new Pakistanis. As this idea was based on superficial statements and the basic questions of how and why were never discussed, the obvious outcome was imminent, the cult started losing its interest. The PTI and Imran Khan’s idea of de-individualizing Pakistanis and creating crowd psychology for the sole purpose of minimizing individualistic cognition has failed. Imran Khan was prying on collectiveness just to put pressure on individuals to do his bidding, such as civil unrest, rioting, and social media blanket hate campaigns. Social scientists believe that an individual can categorically behave differently while in a group and it is much easier to provoke and instigate the same individual in a group situation that’s why we have seen in history that a mob can commit to actions unimaginable for an individual. PTI created group psychology on false promises and utopian ideals which tend to diminish after the passage of time, that could be a reason for maintaining the group mentality and Imran Khan’s assigning a group task only performed if individuals belong to a group. This is not a nascent idea, politicians in the past too, when facing isolation and feeling the fear of their popularity going nose down, out of the blue started fund-raising campaigns for different causes. The cause of raising money is not important, the important thing is the philosophy behind donation and fundraising. Charity and donations are the most primitive social and civic gestures deeply rooted in the concept of belonging and being able to participate. Prior to that PTI cult followers belonged to a vigilante group and considered themselves useful and capable participants of the cult by demonizing every existing element in the society. They were kept busy slandering, slurring, cursing, and abusing everything that did not belong to their cult and cult philosophy. As time has tamed them and their individual cognition may have been retrieved, it could be difficult for Imran Khan to use them as an instrument. So, a call for money for fellow cult members and the cult leader could be a good pullback. The longer they sit idle the more disassociated they will get, principally they are dreamers and dwell on false hopes and futile actions, the matter of the fact is that they must be busy for another futile activity of saving their fellow cult members.
Criminal Brotherhood and Sympathy Cultivation
Saving the fellows is not a bad idea but criminal brotherhood is. The second aspect of this charity call is the psychological mitigation of the crime. PTI cult members under the trance of group mentality committed mutiny against the state and they are facing charges now. The sympathy-cultivation via criminal brotherhood is not only unprecedented but rather a criminal offence itself. Society created sophisticated legal systems with one parameter only and that is no empathy. An empathetic legal system cannot serve its purpose, sympathy on the basis of age, gender, family, and economic status is never part of jurisprudence. A criminal is a criminal, no matter how young his/her children are, how old he/she is, or how rich or poor he/she is. A criminal is a criminal and must face the charges and must serve the sentence. PTI cried for help for the state criminals itself last chant for the followers to be united and the last mantra of us vs them. The entire idea is “since we are facing false imprisonment by “them” (state institutions), and we must get out of it”. The psychological nullification of crime and dragging all into a pool where everyone has to share the actions and their consequences together. The abrupt lack of togetherness is Imran Khan’s biggest nightmare right now.
Virtual Cult Realities and Fading Influence
If Imran Khan had internalized the reality of his cult’s togetherness, he could have saved himself from the hassle of being incarcerated in the first place. PTI cult is a social media cult, their entire socialization and belonging is based on virtual platforms. In the physical environment, many of them are still capable of behaving rationally and can reason to some extent. However, in the virtual grouping, they can pose havoc on others, they can name-call anyone, they can conveniently curse anyone, and dehumanize anyone. Their presence is threatening to any sensible, decent person, resulting in them taking over virtual reality and giving the impression that only PTI exists in Pakistan. If anyone else tries to even breathe by not following their cult norms, that person will be crucified. Imran Khan is missing this public character-crucifixion of sane Pakistanis, but this weapon is out of ammunition. He is smelling the forgottenness lurking around him. His slur brigade is inactive and social media is getting back to normal, where individuals can disagree with respect, argue with logic, and debate decently but that is not what Imran Khan has dreamt of. His wishful thinking is forcing him to create the good old days when his slur brigade ruled over social media, and he frowned to nail everybody down if that person was not part of his group. I don’t know if few still think that PTI is a political party and has genuine political workers, but I have stated position for more than four years that PTI is a pressure group and a cult. Many of them are cult members as a business proposition. They understand social media and abuse it, they know that negativity creates curiosity and curiosity gets more attention, more attention means more money. Moreover, if this entire process of cursing, getting attention, and making money is paid for by someone then it’s a lucrative business. And that business is suffering downsizing these days because the game of PTI’s cult is drying down money as no more money is being funneled to the slur soldiers, they are not abusing anymore and the absence of abuse means PTI is losing popularity.
It may be noted that a whistleblower from PTI has published data indicating that over Rs870 million was spent in two years (2021-22 and 2022-23) over slur brigade out of public money. The data showed that 89% of the social media accounts of the PTI slur brigade had fake followers.
The data revealed the hateful agenda of the PTI wherein these social media soldiers were utilized for advancing the political objectives of the party and propaganda campaigns, including demonization, spreading disinformation, conspiracies, fake news, and provoking public sentiment and anti-state narratives and hatemongering against Pakistan Army.
تحریک انصاف نے کیسے پاکستان کے غریب عوام کے ٹیکس کے پیسے سے 87 کروڑ روپے کی سوشل میڈیا ٹیم کا آغاز کیا۔
سرکار کا پیسہ کھانے والے کی سب فہرستیں آپ کو اس تھریڈ میں مل جائینگی۔
شئیر کرتے جائیں تاکہ عوام کو پتہ چلے کہ انکے ٹیکس سے ہی انکو گالیاں دی جاتی تھیں 1/10 pic.twitter.com/llEOTRdWHx
— PTI Insider (@PTI_Insider) October 25, 2023
This is a tricky thing to understand but the total sum is that all those die-hard followers need money to continue their presence on social media, that money was paid by taxpayers and now Imran Khan is asking for donations to funnel that money so his name could remain relevant.
Shazia Anwer Cheema is an author, and analyst and writes articles for national and international media outlets. She did her M.Phil in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University Denmark and is currently completing her Ph.D. in Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague.
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.