Many mouths to feed

June 02, 2019

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THE PTI is readying itself for a media coup in Lahore, in the bargain reminding everyone around that democracy is not about one man speaking for the government all the time as might have been the case in the past; it is about giving a voice to the masses. The party’s new Punjab wizard, provincial Information Minister Samsam Bukhari, was blamed for going slow, especially when he had illustrious and loud predecessors to compete with. But lo and behold, he mumbled the magic mantra and found at his command 40 committed souls — spokespersons — with a licence to grill. Only one assignment fits their size: drowning out all other voices with their chorus. But the party is by no means the inventor here. Others before the PTI had taken it upon themselves to make public lists of experts they were comfortable being represented by. Knowing that it is a quick learner, the PTI must have been previously caught up with other important things to have not come up with a publicised panel of its own people speaking out with the requisite conviction whenever and wherever necessary.

Journalists — of whom incidentally we always have too many — are too old-fashioned to come out of their mindset. They may quickly and obediently agree with the PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah that these spokespersons are here to counter the Maryam Nawaz ‘threat’. However, one should not forget who was originally responsible for this trend where parties are required to have legions of spokespersons ready to respond to an issue at a ticker’s notice. Over and above the habit of newspapers telling their readers how the relevant spokespersons were unavailable to speak, there are now channels and tickers and talk shows that cannot be missed. These mushrooming channels need to be fed the required info round the clock. This may just be the beginning. All things considered, we may soon have lists showing us which spokesperson currently speaking for which party was working which shift on a particular day.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2019