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The function of party symbols is to attract voters and primarily unlettered voters to stamp on the symbol of political parties in elections. Again, the image comes to the rescue in a society that has a 54 per cent literacy rate, including those who can only write their names. All parties strive for symbols that represent their voter’s aspirations and party agenda. After the completion of five years of a democratic government, parties are going to poll with their old election symbols and new parties like, Pakistan Tehreek Insaf will be allotted new elections symbols. The Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf locked horns for the election symbol of the scale.
JUI-F’s elections symbol was a book and was also the symbol of the MMA in the 2002 elections. I remember one JUI candidate from Kohat, told his audience that not stamping on his symbol was equivalent to rejecting the holy book. There are more than a hundred election commission approved symbols that you have to choose from. It includes symbols like the tonga, that was the symbol of Nawabzada Nasrullah’s party and probably described his party well too. There is also the symbol of a mango that might be of some value for Ziaul Haq followers.
However, seeing how the character of these political parties have changed, new symbols are needed to represent them now, those that would be instantly recognisable for most Pakistanis. The Pakistan Peoples Party have changed so much from its earlier anti-establishment stance and PML-N that was once considered as the army cobbled party is now more anti-establishment than PPP. Party priorities have changed also and if we look at their performances its high time they changed their symbols according to their performance for the convenience of all voters.
I have a few suggestions for new election symbols. Old symbols like the takhti (slate) aren’t even used in the rural areas. The lota is replaced by the Muslim shower and is now only found in Raiwind annual gatherings. For example Tahirul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek symbol in the 2007 elections was a truck, but now nothing short of container can explain his party.
Pakistan Peoples Party: PPP has completed its five year terms and that is probably the only achievement of this party. According to their performance, a generator could perfectly depict their five year rule … or a car with flag.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf: The last time their election symbol was a bat and Imran Khan could barely escape getting out on duck, just scoring one run although he contested from six constituencies. This time they should opt for a cricket ball as khan has repeatedly stated that he could clean bowl both PPP and PML-N with just one ball. A Pepsi top would also remind people of how he mastered the art of reverse swing. Also, since they are new entrants and 25 per cent of the tickets will be allotted to youngsters, a soother might make for another good symbol for them.
Pakistan Muslim League (N): This party claims to have founded Pakistan although no current leader is remotely connected to or has any relations with the founding parties’ stalwarts, except Tehmina Daultana. Today its competing with the Frontier Works Department rather than the sitting government and their only achievements are the Motorway or the Rapid Bus Transport System in Lahore. I think a road-roller instead of the tiger much better represents this party … perhaps even a laptop.
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F): This party fought the elections on the book symbol. The rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan was swift because of the four wheelers that were fuelled by the maulanas. They are supporters of a peace dialogue with the Taliban in Pakistan.
Pakistan Muslim league (Q): PML-Q is like the treasury of Pakistan. Everyone raided it to get a majority in the provincial or federal government. It has been reduced to child’s tricycle.
Awami National Party: ANP fought previous elections on the lantern symbol. After the recent hike in petroleum and kerosene oil it seems that this symbol may not attract many voters. Their new symbol could be a hand axe as that is what cuts down tree for cooking. Or the Pakistan Railways, a testimony of ANP excellence.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek: The party of Sheikh ul-Islam contested the elections in 2002 and won only one seat with the election symbol of a truck. There is no guessing what their new election symbol should be. The bomb proof container could be added to the already existent truck or the Canadian connection.
Mutahida Qaumi Movement: MQM contested its last election on the symbol of a kite. Now, Karachi is the headquarters of the Taliban who are against kite flying and our guardians of morality have already banned it in Punjab. MQM should now use the telephone as their symbol as it the only gadget that is keeping MQM united. Or a symbol of a U-shaped magnet, representing the U-turns of the party, and the attraction quality of its message.
Jamaat-i-Islami: The justice and freedom party of Morsi is ruling in Egypt and the justice and development party in Turkey; while Jamaat-i-Islami is expecting to win the election with a scale symbol. Although this party is more famous for always alleging a foreign hand in everything and for the denial of the Taliban’s or al Qaeda’s role in terrorism in Pakistan.
Awami Muslim League: Sheikh Rashid’s party fought the election in Rawalpindi on the symbol of an ink-pot. Since he is a regular guest on TV shows, the TV is a good symbol for this party or even a comb that he uses so skillfully for his perfectly combed ‘hair’.
All Pakistan Muslim League: Musharraf is a new entrant and has not contested any elections previously; their election symbol is a hawk. I would suggest that he should apply for a bat, as that would better describe his policy against extremism and his role in the War on Terror. According to story of the bat in panchtantar, a great war broke out between the beasts and birds. The bat fought along the birds against animals and kept changing sides with those who were dominant. At last, both the birds and the animal struck a peace deal and the bat was stranded on a distant island. Or the APML can ask for the symbol of a hound, that was hunting with the hounds yet running with the hare. Since most of his ‘followers’ are found on Twitter, the Twitter bird would work too.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.