“Party hoppers” in the age of the internet


    Party hoppers are a bit of an elite when it comes to New Year’s celebrations but not so much when it comes to political parties.

    In the age of the print media, it wasn’t such a big deal, specially if only one party had been switched. Things got a little dicey in the age of free broadcast news media, where soundbites delivered when in one party could come back to bite you when you were in another. But it is truly the age of social media when things got horrible for those who have jumped ship. Now it doesn’t take a Production Associate to dig such tape up from the record room, but a troll (or activist, take your pick) from another party to keep trawling through the video sites.

    A rulebook for people so inclined would be to be a little reserved when holding forth on an opposing party that one would join later.

    Consider the case of the PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry. He jumped ship from Musharraf (whom he had joined only after he stepped down as president, he keeps reminding us) to to the PPP. And then, recently, to the PTI.

    Now the fellow is quite prolific on Twitter since some time. His tweets, calling the supporters of the PTI “dogs”, have been stored in digital eternity. As has his calling former ISI chief Shuja Pasha “Imran’s dad.”

    Even now, when he riles up the Leaguers, they can be found sharing (not so) old videos of his like the one below (online readers only) with the PTI’s Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chauhan.


    Fayyaz-ul-Hassan Chauhan, at the risk of sounding partisan, is a horrible man. The way Donald Trump pushed the envelope of what could be said as a politician on live TV, Chauhan has done so for third-tier political party leaders. In this particular video, true to form, he is the one who is using the language of Boys college playground scuffles. But it was Fawad Chaudhry who had been constantly poking the hornets’ nest of a man that Chauhan is.

    Marvi Memon is another politician who faces the brunt of digital memory. Having been a spirited Musharraf supporter, she used to put up quite a show in the National Assembly during the PPP government. She used to thump her desk whenever Pervez Elahi used to enter the House as some sort of equivalent of the Treasury members thumping theirs whenever the PM used to walk in. She was usually the only one, leading to some guffaws amongst those of us easily amused in the Press Gallery.

    Later, when contemplating on the jump, she briefly considered the PTI, almost joined it, but decided against it, reportedly because the party wasn’t going to give her a post. Now since she almost joined the party, she did attend one PTI rally.

    Again, this being the age of the internet, her shrill pro-Imran slogans will be remembered for a while.

    But it is not this video that does her in.



    That honour goes to railways minister Saad Rafiq’s propensity to play the we-fought-dictators card when speaking to the media at press conferences. Once, when he did this, he was flanked by Marvi Memon on one side and Sheikh Waqqas Akram on the other, who were both shifting uncomfortably in their shoes when he made this point. Akram is reported to have later said to Rafiq that perhaps he should avoid this particular rhetorical device when former members of the Other League are around.

    Well, it appears that Saad Rafiq gets a perverse kick out of doing this because he did so recently again. Though it was only Marvi memon this time.

    Perhaps he is doing it on purpose, so that those who’ve stood by their party, not just the League, but all of them across the country, can get a vicarious pleasure.

    This is for the Taj Haiders and Mian Iftikhar Hussains and (why not?) Saad Rafiqs of Pakistan.