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Monday, December 26, 2011

Karachi, too: Imran Khan's, PTI can put up a show

One doesn’t have to be a fan of the PTI to appreciate the party’s rally in Karachi. Despite the flurry of flags generally found in the city, despite all the talk about the city being divided along many lines, Karachi is woefully under-politicised in a number of ways. The culture of fear that has permeated the city generally prevents parties - other than the one that has the run of the place - from freely carrying out rallies, even if other parties do manage to gather crowds occasionally.
Yesterday’s was a free rally, not much fighting to get it organised, as opposed to Imran Khan’s earlier attempt at the same during the first stint of the lawyers’ movement. His team, it has to be commended, did a good job of zeroing in on its support base and utilising modern tools
to reach out to them, the use of Imran Khan’s pre-recorded invitation audio-messages being but one of them.
Rallies are flawed indicators of electoral performance. If a party can manage one, it has a good shot at the other. Not a sure shot. The Jamaat-e-Islami is a case in point; lots of street power that seems to vanish into thin air come election time. It is in this regard that a strength of the PTI’s can become a weakness. The PTI puts up too good a spectacle; an attendant, therefore, cannot be an assured voter. The Kasur rally, for instance, is not going to be let go of by political satirists any time soon.
The bulk of the actual voting class makes up its mind after being reached out to by local tier party activists who talk about local issues. An association with as unpopular a leader as general Pervez Musharraf was in ’08 did not prevent the PML(Q) from becoming the third largest parliamentary profile. This wouldn’t have been the outcome of flashy manifestos but assurances on dull, local issues.
Imran Khan has been drawing electables to his party of late. The urban middle-class fans of his party speak out against the inclusion of these tainted “old faces” little realising it is they and their affiliate lower support networks that will translate into votes, not rallies.
http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/12/karachi-too/