Perception Management: Fiasco

By ONLOOKER: The mishandling of Baloch protestors in Islamabad on December 20-21, and its media coverage is the gravest fiasco by the caretaker government and the State machinery combined. It has further sowed the seed of discontent –the woeful response and handling has added fuel to the fire.

Latest events are worrisome –for all those who listen, think, understand, analyze, and I repeat, who think with the future in mind is troubling.

Firstly, stopping Shoaib Shaheen advocate and others from Punjab at the Balochistan airport and sending them back was one incident; Secondly, the arrest of Sher Afzal Marwat in Lahore ( Punjab), was the second, and thirdly, the brutal handling of peaceful protesters from Balochistan in the Federal capital of Islamabad –however, these could have been handled appropriately from perception management point of view for the public at large. These events took place when there is a prime minister taking care of things at the helm of affairs –he belongs to the smallest but resource-rich, and ironically the least developed province Balochistan. However, it appears he could not weigh in.

The PM could not take advantage of his being from the smallest and the poorest but ‘resource-rich’ province he belongs to. Over and above, the prime Minister apparently does not have an astute, far-sighted and competent communication team that could manage such situations from appearing as a ‘fiasco’ on the major screen. It appeared that the Caretaker information minister and his whole team in the Administration (a State domain) had no strategy to handle the situation, an observer says. “Even if they had a strategy, they failed to implement it”, an insider said.

Somewhere down the line, there was lack of damage control/failure management –there was failure to understand the gravity of this situation and no expertise to overcome the malicious propaganda on social media was observed working. Failure to give a timely response and to build any narrative and handle this situation on media platforms was apparent.

The related Ministry failed to counter fake news. “No political acumen was visible in the narrative” and “a half-hearted response was obvious”, an insider says.

“The unfortunate mishandling of the Balochistan protesters will not end here”; it will have far-reaching ramifications in times to come, specially at the time of the elections and afterward”.

Wake up caretakers; don’t let the undertakers have a fields day –on their time and watch!

The views expressed by the writer (a member of the BACK2SCHOOL Forum) and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of