What do PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan and your grandma have in common? Both are relatively easy to impress. Brownie points if you do things on your own, just don't tell mom.
Prime Minister Imran Khan went on tour of Islamabad on Sunday, driving his BMW around the capital with an associate, stopping at a markaz or two to speak to local vendors and sellers, ensure the government's coronavirus guidelines are being adhered to, and waving at unsuspecting men and women out in the wild.
As the PM's army on Twitter insists, the highlight of his day out was that he went around without protocol. What he didn't leave behind, however, was his team of cameramen.
Here's what was shared by the Prime Minister's Office.
Fans were quick to notice that the PM did more than just go around town without an ocean of armed men following and leading him and also stopped at red lights. He parked right there, besides all the other cars at the junction, but no other car was being driven by the PM, and stopping at the signal is the least they can do.
Senator Javed proclaimed PM Imran an exemplary leader and sang his praises for his solo flight and announced an end to VIP culture (if everyone makes like the premier, that is).
It's laughable how little it takes from these men in power to have the others put them high up on undeserving pedestals. Apparently stopping at a traffic light can make up for a lot in some people's eyes. If only that worked for everyone.
In fact, he wasn't the only PTI leader singing PM Imran's praises.
In the replies, there was this one individual that saw more than what was shown. He alleged that the premier was followed by 'suspicious men', men that bring to question his claim of having 'no protocol'.
That's not it. We did see that the premier was stopped at the red light, but where was his seatbelt?
This is a reflection of a greater issue of how politicians and leaders are viewed by the Pakistani populace, not due to any fault of their's. There is a perception of our leaders being kings of the land, above the law and basic etiquettes expected of regular members of society. And this is propagated time and again when the elite, especially politicians, exist above the law. Remember how former MPA Majeed Achakzai was acquitted for his hit-and-run case in Quetta, where he killed a cop while speeding through an intersection?
It makes sense why a regular Pakistani on the streets of a working-class neighbourhood would be impressed by the PM's showmanship, and why his office would want to broadcast this. Very few politicians and even fewer prime ministers come strolling through suspiciously empty markets and drive their own cars there. But the standard is rather low in Pakistan and stopping at a red light should be the norm, not a rarity. There's no reason for our politicians (PM or otherwise) not to follow the rules.
We wish the government and its dignitaries would stop using videos like this to win public support and keep themselves at the helm of power. They must understand, if somehow they don't already, that showmanship is no an effective election or PR strategy. The most effective strategy is performance.