Tuesday July 05, 2022

War of narratives: Pakistan stands victorious in tribal election

July 22, 2019

Former Fata has been the focus of international attention since the cold war due to its geostrategic location and mainly law and order situation, but 20th July, 2019 will be remembered in the history as one of the day where men and large number of women came out to not only cast their votes but restoring confidence in peaceful process of democratic values.

They rejected war narrative and turbulence from which their previous generations suffered; and conveyed a message not only to region but to the world that they don’t want their future generations to suffer any more and have confidence in present form of democratic system. This election was in fact the war of narrative!!

Over the years, a unified effort was made by spreading doom and gloom scenario, by overpowering the region where the state institution was undermined by the narrative, narrative of disinformation and false propaganda (even few political parties were spreading hatred against Army/state) fueled by the West, and liberal class/sympathetic opinion influencers were regularly writing about them. A political leadership was needed for countering narrative against heavily funded campaign that was undermining all positive steps. A political voice was needed to set the direction right as these tribal districts remained in “active” war on terror for number of years and even after Political Party Act was extended and 25th amendment enactment, there was not much political activity. Also, historically no political party has ever got majority seats neither in NA nor in the Senate from Fata.

After independent candidates, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as political party leading on most of the seats (received 25.6% of the total votes polled) and completely washing out the PPP and PML-N is meaningful. Those who call PM Imran Khan “selected” can witness who electorate belongs to and who is “rejected”?

PM Imran Khan has always had consistent stance of peaceful tribal districts (subject that is very close to his heart), so PTI-led from the front and created an effective counter narrative through PM jalsas; provincial cabinet meetings in tribal districts; PM, governor, chief minister and provincial ministers visits; people to people contact to engage and understand issues; media engagement - TV shows, radio programmes and addressed the main issues of the tribal districts. It is due to all these tireless efforts, people have not voted against the government despite toughest economic reforms and current inflation rate set by government. Rather PTI emerged as biggest political party by receiving maximum votes from tribal areas.

Few of the independent winners are PTI leaders who did not get party ticket but will join the government hopefully.

Pakistan must acknowledge CM Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan, Governor Shah Farman and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government for not lanky translating dream into reality but also timely discharging constitutional obligation - which is actually quite rear in our country. With the completion of this election, the transition of Fata into KP province has completed, Alhumdulillah!!

To sum up - the global war of narrative is won by democratic values, state and Imran Khan!!

The writer is SAPM Media and can be reached @DuraniIftikhar