­LAHORE - On the campaign trail, political leaders are selling their respective manifestoes to the electorate with a different line of attack though.

But who is leading the most effective campaign is evident by the pattern. As all the leaders are conspicuous by their mannerism, some politicians even need to have lessons on how to speak in public notwithstanding their years-long exposure in the political realm.

From amongst all the political leaders, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been running the most real campaign devoid of any rhetoric.

Sobriety of language and prime focus on the party manifesto is the hallmark of his election speeches.

In Punjab, he is challenging the PML-N and the PTI as the two right wing parties having soft corner for the Taliban. He is telling the people that PPP is the only progressive party with an ideology to make the country a social welfare state freeing it of extremists.

Bilawal started off his maiden election campaign from Sindh and entered South Punjab for onward journey to the KP province.

He then reached northern Punjab touring across various districts along the GT Road. He got a rousing welcome wherever he went.

PTI chief Imran Khan is leading the most aggressive campaign compared to other leaders as the elections are around the corner.

Imran Khan is addressing more than six rallies at a stretch. His frequency of rallies is more than all. One day, he is seen addressing rallies in at least three cities. Yesterday, he was present in Lahore before noon. Then he was seen at various public rallies in Bahawalpur in the afternoon. In the evening he was in Multan the same day.

But in Punjab, he has started receiving a lukewarm response from the public compared to his previous rallies. Empty chairs were staring him in the face at a recent gathering at Jhelum held in the constituency of his spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry.

Imran Khan reportedly also expressed his dismay over the poor showing that day.

Also, a small gathering at Shahdra town in Lahore welcomed the PTI chief on Thursday last. A small number of people showing up at Khan’s rallies close to the July 25 vote should be a cause of worry for the party leadership.

Unlike Bilawal, Imran is using a harsh and at times filthy language for his political opponents evoking harsh criticism from the people especially at the social media.

He was also summoned by the Election Commission this week to explain his position. Nonetheless, his legal aide Babar Awan has assured the ECP authorities on Khan’s behalf that his client would now be careful in selection of words while speaking against his detractors.

To make the things even worse, former KP Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattack followed the suit when he called PPP supporters “sons of prostitutes” at a public gathering.

Not only this, Khan’s campaign is also marked by violent clashes as recently witnessed in Karachi.

PML-N chief Shehbaz Sharif is running a delayed but an aggressive campaign in the absence of Mian Nawaz Sharif. It was delayed mainly because of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Maryam’s return from London and their subsequent imprisonment just two weeks before the polls.

At the election rallies, he is disseminating a modified version of Nawaz Sharif’s narrative by getting soft on the establishment and the judiciary. But he is also selling his development work undertaken in the last five years. It includes setting up of power plants, construction of roads, underpasses, metro buses and his orange train project.

He is also calling for NAB probe into the alleged corruption to the tune of Rs 300 billion committed by the last KPK government with no visible progress so far. PML-N leader is also critical of the metro bus project initiated by the PTI’s government in Peshawar which is in a pretty dilapidated shape despite significant escalation in the construction cost.

Political leaders are holding big and small rallies in specific cities, but the overall electioneering is quite unimpressive at other places. Absence of election euphoria makes it a lackluster campaign by any standard. With a few remaining in the vote, election activity is confined only to specified places.

A number of reasons could be attributed to the current state of lifeless electioneering in the cities. Since there is a strong impression that Establishment has decided to get PTI’s candidates elected on maximum seats, particularly from Punjab and generally from across the country, candidates from other parties are not willing to waste money on the electioneering knowing the outcome of the elections.

A fear factor is also hampering a vigorous campaign. Recent spate of terrorist attacks killing several only in three incidents is also preventing the people to come out in large numbers. Likewise, incidents of firing, around six in number, on the convoys of different candidates have also generated a similar effect.

Last but not the least, there is no dearth of people in the PML-N who are unhappy and disappointed over the manner their leader Mian Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were sent to jail and how their appeals were handled by the court. They feel that an even playing field is not available to the PML-N candidates this time.

 

 

Who is leading the most effective campaign?

 

MUBASHIR HASSAN