Published in: Express Tribune
Writer: Asad Zia
PESHAWAR: Having seen its limited impact in the last general elections despite it being considered as an unknown quantifier, this general elections, political parties are keen to harness the power social media for their respective canvassing campaigns
Like in other parts of the country, frenetic political activity is visible in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) where all political parties have set up their social media cells.
Staffed with volunteers, they project their party’s image, activities and their manifestoes.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which pioneered the use of social media for elections, especially in the 2013 elections, has appointed 180 volunteers who report on party activities across the province and run various social media pages for each of their ticketed candidates.
They use social media and other modern communication platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Whatsapp to engage with voters and convince them to vote for their party.
Speaking to The Express Tribune PTI’s K-P Social Media Head Syed Furqan said that social media is a comparatively a low cost, but fast form of communication and it has rapidly grown in significance as a forum for political activism.
He said that communication through social media brings political parties closer to their voters and it is a suitable way to inform people regarding their achievements.
Furqan said that PTI had first formed its social media cell in 2009 and strengthened it ahead of the 2013 general elections. These cells saw their official manifestation when the PTI came to power in K-P and directed each department to set up their own facebook and twitter profiles to better communicate with the people.
He explained that the PTI cell is run directly under the supervision of party chairman Imran Khan while it has a team in the capital as well as provincial, regional, district and tehsil level.
Furqan informed that PTI has prepared 10 multimedia vehicles which comprise large screens, internet facility, decorated stage, cameras and sound system.
He said that former K-P education minister Atif Khan has prepared own multimedia vehicle in his personal capacity which he will use in his constituencies for the election campaign.
About monitoring of PTI social media, the provincial head said that all their social media accounts are verified and they have informed people that if someone posts something negative from fake accounts they would be not responsible.
Talking to The Express Tribune University of Peshawar International Relations Department Chairman Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi said that social media was a new form of communication but it can create a negative impact on our societies, especially due to the ease with which fake news can propagate on the platform.