PTI leadership are very good at some things. They are second to none at thinking up slogans. They can put on a rock concert better than most professional entertainment companies. They have an almost magical way of entrancing the media. And lets be honest, they have the top social media team of the country. PTI is a successful marketing machine, but even the best marketing team cannot make a delicacy out of old meat.
PTI’s most recent marketing campaign, branded with the hashtag #ShutDownToRebuild, threatened to bring Karachi, the financial capital, to its knees. What actually too place, however, was more like a pain in the neck. PTI sat down in the street and blocked traffic. Imran Khan made speeches. Youthias shouted slogans. And as the sun went down, they packed up and went home. The demonstration was inconvenient, but tomorrow everything will go back to normal as if nothing happened.
Now PTI is taking their road show (literally sitting in the road) to Lahore in a few days. There they will follow Imran Khan around chanting slogans. Arif Alvi will chat on the phone while sitting in the middle of the street. Wealthy PTI leaders will have their photos taken while drinking tea at a dhaba and their social media wing will spread them as evidence of their leaders humble authenticity. When the lights are off and the cameras put away, though, those humble leaders will return to their mansions and armies of servants.
How this helps the country, I don’t know. Actually, I’m not even sure how this helps PTI. Is their plan to annoy the country into handing over the reins of power? PTI’s leadership has proven to be masters of political showmanship, but they can’t seem to figure out how to get beyond sitting in the middle of the road inconveniencing people who just want to go about their lives. And so as another day comes and goes, so too another PTI demonstration that promised to bring things to a halt once again falls flat. Maybe it’s time for PTI itself to #ShutDownToRebuild.