The PTI has a huge brigade of spin-doctors. All of them fervently compete with each other to promote the feel-good stories about the Imran government. Most of them fully realize that the prime minister is not a regular reader of the print media. He rather considers this genre, old and dying. It does not help a politician with cultivating and deepening the populist base either.

Little wonder, Imran Khan proved himself to be the first politician in Pakistan who brilliantly focused on the electronic media for developing a diehard constituency of admirers and loyalists.

Of late, though, the prime minister seems to have discovered the limits of this medium as well. He rather keeps checking various APPs on his cell phone, almost addictively, to find out what has gone viral on social media. Most of his regular spokespersons don’t look living up to his expectations on this front.

We can’t blame him, therefore, if he has now begun to patronize a select group of dedicated youth. With obsessive zeal, the activists of this group sweat around the clock to establish themselves as perception-building “YouTube Influencers.” Thanks to the diligence of such “volunteers”, the PTI narrative dominates the media discourse these days.

The economic and many other forms of constraints are not letting the regular media to breathe anyway and things continue to look rosy and hunky-dory for the Imran government, if you rely on media only.

“Virtual” can’t replace “the real”, though. And some speeches, delivered from the treasury benches during the ongoing discussion on budgetary proposals have certainly conveyed that “ground realities” are not as pleasing as the truckload of spin-doctors would want us to imagine.

Dr. Ramesh Kumar, a prominent representative of the Hindu community, is a very experienced parliamentarian. Since 2002, he has always been finding himself sitting on the treasury benches. With a friends-to-all-sincere-to-none mindset, he instinctively knows what not to say when delivering a speech in the national assembly, while speaking from the treasury benches. Tuesday he could not stop himself from cautiously expressing some unpleasant truths.

Doctor Kumar was also hit by Corona some weeks ago. Enduring the fear-inducing times of an ongoing pandemic, his experience of fighting with the virus surely deserved attentive listening. He shocked most of us by humbly revealing that as atrained doctor, he could not motivate himself to get admitted in “any hospital of Islamabad,” after observing the scene and facilities there.

He preferred to isolate himself in his flat, allotted to members of the national assembly in Islamabad. Before locking himself there, he required Oxygen meter to watch his condition. Also an Oxygen Cylinder, in case he needed to use it for smooth breathing. Both of these crucial items for a Corona patient had gone missing from the market. He finally acquired them with desperate efforts and of course after paying a highly inflated price.

The story he told without being dramatic could make one shiver, if considered in the context that Dr. Ramesh Kumar is a ruling party MNA and he had often been returning to the national assembly since 2002. He almost runs an “open house” in Islamabad and thanks to his humility and generosity cultivated a big crowd of life-long friends. If a person of his caliber felt almost abandoned after being hit by COVID-19, what about mortals like you and I? And I finish my question here.

Sardar Riaz Mohammad Khan Mazari narrated the second embarrassing story, again from the treasury benches, Tuesday. He, in fact, represents a highly respected patriarch of the Mazari tribe, Mir Balkh Sher Mazari, who had also been a former caretaker prime of Pakistan. He hails from Rajanpur, a district of Punjab bordering Balochistan.

This soft-spoken scion of an “elitist” family sounded quite helpless while claiming that a group of “not more than 25 hardened criminals” has completely taken over his district. They audaciously extract money by conveying their demands “on regular phones.” Police and the District Administration don’t want to even attempt controlling them.

Due to the terror, the said group of hardened criminals had enforced upon Rajanpur, Riaz Mazari went on, “hundreds of families have left their family homes for safe havens.” He also claimed, “even at this point in time, around two hundred people are staying put close to my ancestral home.” They have lost all means of income and are nowliving like beggars.

With an extremely bitter heart, Riaz Mazari was forced to recall that presumably swayed by the bias, urban middle classes hold for “Sardars (Chiefs)” of the Baloch tribes, the popular media often projects the story that these chiefs “protect and patronize criminals” in their areas.

Five Inspector Generals of Police for Punjab had come and gone in less than two years of the Imran government since August 2018. Riaz Mazari kept insisting that he had tried contacting all of them to seek help for controlling crime in his district. “No one cared to even listen to me sympathetically.”

Osman Buzdar, the current Chief Minister of Punjab, represents a neighboring district of Rajanpur. Also hailing from a Baloch tribe, he must be fully conversant with the scene in Baloch-majority areas. Riaz Mazari failed to mobilize him as well and eventually claimed to have met the prime minister, “not once but twice,” to seek his intervention for improving the law and order situation in Rajanpur. These meetings also failed to deliveranything substantive.

The story, Riaz Mazari, has narrated without raising his voice, forcefully described the state of “governance” in a historic district of Punjab, which is being claimed to have been “effectively governed” by an “honest son of the soil,” i.e., Osman Buzdar these days.

During the concluding hours of Tuesday sitting, another PTI MNA, this time from Islamabad, Ali Awan, also forced the Chair to entertain his point of order. After getting the floor, he angrily agitated against the fee charged from students for “imparting education” by digital means in the times of Corona. He insisted that average middle class parents could simply not pay the fee demanded.

His “protesting behavior” did look “odd,” because Mr. Awan also savors the privilege of being one of the many “Special Assistants to the Prime Minister.” This position should have guaranteed some access to the prime minister for him. But instead of approaching him, discreetly, Awan felt compelled to agitate on the matter at a public forum, the national assembly.

His passionate pleading forced the Chair to pass the matter to national assembly’s committee on education, with the clear direction that the said committee should submit its final report “within 15 days.”

After watching the national assembly proceedings of Tuesday, I sincerely felt sorry for the huge crowd of regular and voluntary spin-doctors of the Imran government, who continue to stretch their imagination for inventing and promoting the feel good stories about it. All their efforts, for sure, seemed to be going down the drain.