Editorial: Need for National and Social Media Cells in Political Parties

In this modern age no organization can thrive and be successful if it’s not properly organized. This applies not only to profit making business but also to political parties. A political party can only be successful in getting political mileage if it can effectively communicate with the masses.
Since the general elections of 2013, major political parties of Pakistan such as PPP, PTI and PML-N have developed their media and social media cells which defend the point of view of their respective parties. These cells also propagate the vision and mission of their parties, if they have, and also act as a marketing tool.
Social media has played a pivotal role in the success and popularity of PTI so far and other national level political parties are also making similar efforts. However in case of Balochistan no political party has effective media or social media setup. They are still relying on the media management in 1990s style, which has become obsolete.
On 12th July, BNP conducted a seminar in Islamabad with the title of CPEC: Development or Exploitation. Intellectuals, journalists and members of civil society were invited in this seminar and they were apprised about the situation in Balochistan in the backdrop of CPEC. A resolution was also passed which comprised of 16 points. Irrespective of the nature and contents of this seminar, it totally failed to achieve its objectives because it did not receive any coverage in national as well as on social media.
Certain party leaders and activists associated with BNP complained that media did not give coverage to the seminar and the hyperactive social media users from Balochistan also ignored. In reality, it was the fault of BNP who conducted this seminar without any homework to propagate it in national and social media and this fact is overlooked.
When, we at Balochistan Voices, run a social media campaign, we prepare in advance for many days. The timing, nature and goals of the campaign are shared with the people and they are proactively approached to take part in it. After that we manage to raise our voice at Social Media at a noticeable level. On the contrary, there was no such effort by the team BNP and no social media activist was proactively informed to propagate the resolution of the seminar. Likewise no press release was prepared for English Newspapers who wanted to publish the news at earliest. As a result the event did not get the level of coverage that it should have got given the nature of the topic which is crucial for entire country.
This is not just the problem of BNP but almost all political parties in Balochistan suffer from the same problem. Neither National Party nor Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) has any organized media or social media cell.
An example of this is the recent statement given by Mehmood Khan Achakzai about “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa being part of Afghanistan” which made headlines at national media and was also widely condemned. Mr. Achakzai was misquoted but PkMAP failed to clear the confusion due to lack of an organized media team that can rapidly respond to clarify the issue.
Political parties in Balochistan rely on press releases in Urdu and occasional Press Conferences. They have Information Secretaries and Party Spokesman but they are old school and have no familiarity with latest needs of media management. Social media accounts are also operated under the names of these parties by their activists who often post controversial stuff that do not reflect the policy of those parties. But again due to their capacity and lack of understanding of the implications of such issues, they do not even bother to disown those accounts.
Need of the hour is that all the political parties in Balochistan need to embrace change and give up the old and obsolete practices of Media Management. They need to develop media teams and social media cells comprising of paid professionals who can defend the party and propagate its message. Taking these issues lightly will affect the politics of these parties and make it hard for them even to survive.
Balochistan Voices
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Adnan Aamir is founder and Editor of Balochistan Voices. He also contributes for The News, The News on Sunday and Newsline Magazine amongst others as a freelancer. He has completed Chevening South Asian Journalism fellowship from the University of Westminster.