December 17, 2018

#GeneralElections2018: How Pakistani politicians reacted towards the completion of the government tenure on social media

Pakistani 3G and 4G users had reached the 49.5 million mark by the end of January 2018, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). This is a stark 29 per cent increase compared to January 2017 statistics. Social media, hence, has become a platform that cannot be ignored. Mindful of this, Pakistani politicians have frequently used social media to further their political objectives and express their thoughts on key political incidents.

On 31 May, the federal government completed its five-year constitutional term, making it is the second consecutive democratic government in Pakistan’s history. As the interim government took over in the following day, many political leaders took to social media to express their gratitude and asking voters to prepare for the elections. We list some of them below:

Imran Khan

Social media prowess of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders is well recognized. Its Chairman Imran Khan is the most popular Pakistani politician on twitter with 7.93 million followers and counting on a verified account.

It was not a surprise when Mr. Khan took to social media once again after the completion of the tenure of the parliament. On 31 May, a video of him addressing voters was uploaded on PTI’s official facebook in which he congratulated people on ‘getting rid of a corrupt government and asking them to pray.’ The video was viewed over 153,000 times, shared widely on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp and was met with mixed reviews from all.

Shahbaz Sharif

Over the years, among the few Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, PML-N leaders actively using social media, is the President and former Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif. Using the sophisticated videography that was shared on Youtube, he showed how he spent his last day in office as CM Punjab.

Apart from that, live videos of his engagements were also uploaded on his Twitter. In one of the videos, at the launch of Pakistan Kidney & Liver Institute & Research Centre Lahore (PKLI) established by the Government of Punjab in Lahore, Shahbaz said that if there was no electricity from tomorrow, he is not to be blamed.

Watch video at 13:31 minutes.

Ahsan Iqbal

Another PML-N leader and Former Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has also been actively using Twitter to get his message across. On the last day in his office, he only retweeted a number of posts containing his statements, videos and pictures tweeted by fan pages.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

Pakistan Peoples’ Party, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has also been among the few PPP leaders actively using social media and has over 2.68 million followers and a verified account.. Surprisingly, he was not seen posting about the end of the government or his party’s performance, but tweeted about the press conference held by PPP about concerns pertaining to the upcoming elections.

Other PPP members such as Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah did not tweet about the end of the government.

Pervez Khattak

Another PTI leader and former Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak, also took to twitter to thank his people ‘for supporting the wave of change’. The message was retweeted over 1.3k times.

Khawaja Saad Rafique

PML-N leader and former Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique also bid farewell to the people with this tweet,

Maryam Aurangzeb

PML-N leader and former Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Maryam Aurangzeb she also left a twitter message near the completion of the government.

Sherry Rehman

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Sherry Rehman was the only PPP Politician to have used social media to talk about the end of the government and how PMLN relied on TV commercial to prosper.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif

The brain behind PML-N social media strategy and daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Maryam Nawaz has over 4.93 million followers on her verified account and is the most engaged Politician on Twitter. She is frequently seen retweeting and replying to many tweets both pro and against PMLN. Recently she has been actively promoting PMLN and defending Nawaz Sharif, who doesn’t have any official social media presence, post his disqualification.

Asad Umer

PTI MNA Asad Umer, is the second most popular twitter personality of Pakistan with over 4.92 million followers a verified account. He too took to twitter and recounted his successes as an MNA in Islamabad,

Jahangir Tareen

PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, who was disqualified in December 2017 for being ‘dishonest’ by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, took to twitter and called out Shahbaz Sharif for being ‘incapable of washing corruption in 30 years of ruling Punjab and that he would continue to fail if he rules further’

Altaf Hussain

While all the other parties are using social media to ask for votes. Mutahidda Qaumi Movement leader Altaf Hussain in a video message on social media asked his vote bank to boycott the 2018 elections. He especially requested the millenials to stop their families from voting.

Written by

Annam Lodhi is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy

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