PPP’s Populist Paranoia vs PML-N’s Punjabi Paralysis
PPP: Populist Paraonia
1. Your co-chairman is the most hated man in the country. This is unfortunate for the tactical present and the strategic future. He may be a ‘yar of yars’ – with a Thatcher-like grip over the party as well as the only Head of State in our history to give up vested powers – yet he is widely detested. One doesn’t need the International Republican Institute’s sophisticated polls to foresee that as long as Mr. Z plays El Presidente, you might not get another crack at government. Holding honest town-hall style meetings with key stakeholders as well as broader audiences – an approach that made John ‘Almost Dead’ McCain the cool straight-talker in the ’08 US elections – might yet help Asif ‘Talented But Hated’ Zardari. People should get to know Zardari: the Man, Single-Dad and President – not Mr. 10 Percent: the Playboy, Widower and Financial Houdini.
2. You’ve overplayed the BB and ZAB cards. Stop putting up billboards on their graves. Develop a new leadership brand and move on. That means less sponsoring PTV-style documentaries and more forward thinking. And no, the Benazir Times doesn’t do justice to the Daughter of the East.
3. The PM is not premier-like. At one point, his ‘middle of the road’ style was favored, but that was a fad of Spring/Summer 2009. Currently, he’s running low on inspiration and empty on charisma. Gilani needs to work on his oratory and fire his speech writer (two weeks ago, he put 200 of the country’s brightest military minds to sleep in a live graduation ceremony). Also, the ‘huh’ look, grandpa glasses and light socks on dark suits have to go. Seriously.
4. FM Shah Mahmoud Qureshi is the best spoken man in your party. Unfortunately, SMQ makes his best speeches where no body cares for them: abroad. Use him in a bigger PR role at home. Meanwhile, seeing Fauzia Wahab and Qamar-uz-Zaman Kaira as your public faces is like watching Inzamam in a post-match interview: painful. Perhaps the reason you’re cornered by media is simple: your specialists have low savvy and high pitches.
5. Rehman Malik is officially Pakistan’s most unwanted politician. This is evident by the fact that the Indian media has called him Pakistan’s ‘best dressed and most controversial minister’ (Indianese for ‘connected guy everybody hates’). If the Indians like the color of your tie, something’s off about your domestic political standing. Move fast.
PML-N : Punjabi Paralysis
1. There’s something wrong about men with implants. It doesn’t sound and look right. The modern politician should be worried about his appearance, but not at the cost of acting like a new-money uncle who’s rediscovering himself. Both the Sharifs need to bald again, like real men.
2. You need some women in your party who are not professional credit-card defrauders. Female presence will aid in diluting the macho-Punjabi image that irks most of the rest of the world about you. Remember: you still remind people of Zia-ul-Haq, and that’s a bad thing. The Q-League has Marvi. The PPP retains Sherry. Hamza is about as effete as you get, but he ain’t that pretty. Please, modernize.
3. The younger Impant has to learn to tackle Taseer’s distractions for that ‘Iron-clad Administrator’ reputation he had in the 90s – it worked for him then. Meanwhile, the older Implant needs to get his mojo back – nobody jokes about his yearnings for Nihari or Payas anymore. I recommend a detour run for Kunna Nan on the next helicopter trip to a natural disaster area.
4. Your PR guy, Pervez Rashid, is mean. He doesn’t call reporters back, unless they beg him in the Punjabi-medium – but the real secret is to send him Zardari jokes via SMS.
5. Speaking of Punjab, you will only stop being treated like the party of Lahori shop-owners when you stop hanging out with Lahori shop-owners. Visit the other provinces for a change. I know of a great fish joint in Karachi, a fantastic kebab place in Quetta and the world’s best karahi in Peshawar. You wont miss the lures of the Punjab, trust me. Just get out there and get to know the rest of Pakistan. We have opinions. You should hear them.