PDM has died its own death, says Imran

Published January 5, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan was quoted as saying that the Pakistan Democratic Movement has "died its own death". — Photo courtesy of Imran Khan's Facebook page
Prime Minister Imran Khan was quoted as saying that the Pakistan Democratic Movement has "died its own death". — Photo courtesy of Imran Khan's Facebook page

• Vows to improve delivery of basic rights to masses
• Says will follow SC guidelines about Senate polls

ISLAMABAD: A day after the Bahawalpur rally of the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Prime Minister Imran Khan’s team of spokespersons adopted an aggressive stance on Monday, following the premier’s line that the movement was all but over.

Before heading to various TV channels to participate in talk shows, the spokespersons attended a brainstorming session at PM House which was presided over by Prime Minister Khan.

During the session, Mr Khan said that the PDM was no more a threat to the government.

Talking to Dawn, a participant of the meeting, who did not want to be named, quoted the prime minister as saying: “The PDM has almost lost and died its own death, so it is no more a threat to the government.”

He directed his spokespersons to give a “tough time” to the opposition in the media, which could be seen when the spokespersons took on the opposition leaders on front foot.

The prime minister reiterated that the opposition had come on the streets to seek National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)-like concessions for its leaders, who had plundered national wealth and were now facing corruption references.

“PDM’s entire movement is aimed at getting an NRO, but I will not give them any relief,” he said.

The team of spokespersons consists of those Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders who are often seen on TV screens, promoting the government’s point of view and the prime minister’s narrative on different issues.

They include Information Minister Shibli Faraz, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar, Senator Faisal Javed, Minister for Communication Murad Saeed, Nadeem Afzal Gondal, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Rauf Hassan, Special Assistant Shahbaz Gill, Walid Iqbal, Kanwal Shauzab, Maleeka Bukhari, Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan and Sadaqat Abbasi.

The prime minister’s narrative-building mechanism begins with the meeting of spokespersons on a regular basis during which Mr Khan gives them a guideline on how to counter the opposition on media.

According to a senior party leader, the prime minister personally gives various spokespersons feedback on their performance through WhatsApp.

During one such meeting on Monday – a day after the PDM public rally in Bahawalpur – the prime minister said that cracks had appeared in the opposition’s movement as some major parties had decided not to tender resignations and were adamant on contesting the forthcoming Senate elections.

Another participant of the meeting said the prime minister directed his team to vigorously present the government’s achievements in media so that people would know what the government had done during its over two-and-a-half years term, especially on the economic side.

The prime minister said in the new year, the government would focus on improving delivery of basic rights and facilities to the people.

One of the spokespersons, Kanwal Shouzab, said in a TV programme that the PM’s team consisted of “diehard” spokespersons.

“We are diehard spokespersons and not like the spokespersons of the opposition who have been slaves for generations,” she said.

Responding to a remark of another guest in the show, she said the PM’s spokespersons were usually seen on TV screens to present “the factual” position which was twisted by the opposition’s representatives.

“We do not want to humiliate the opposition but present the factual picture to the people,” she added.

Ms Shouzab said the PDM was serving the purpose of Indian media by criticising state institutions, especially the army.

Another participant said these meetings provided an opportunity to the spokespersons to get their policy line right from the top as well as avail the chance to ask questions, give suggestions and acquire a better understanding of the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’.

The prime minister also discussed the forthcoming Senate polls and hoped that the ruling PTI would get a majority in the Upper House.

He said the government was waiting for the verdict of the Supreme Court on holding of Senate elections through show of hands and not secret balloting.

“Once the Supreme Court gives us its guidelines, we will act accordingly and if required, make the necessary legislation,” PM Khan added.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2021

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