LAHORE   -   No matter how grim the political scenario may seem, the PTI government’s real worry at the moment is not about any threat to its continuation in power. It is, rather, worried about its inability to deliver in a situation when the economy is in bad shape with little hope of its resurrection in the near future. What is actually haunting the PTI hierarchy these days is the growing fear that it might not be able to fulfill the promises made with the people during the election campaign. In the first nine months, the government has not been able even to set a direction for its future endeavours. We hear grumbles about the government even from its supporters. Some ministers privately admit their government had not achieved what it should have accomplished in the first nine months. The PTI’s slogan of ‘change’ is fast losing its magnetism.

No doubt, the Opposition is closing ranks to take on the government after presentation of the national budget, the real motive, however, is not to dislodge it in its infancy. The new budget is surely not going to please the inflation-hit people. Heavy taxation measures as proposed in the budget estimates are enough to upset the public in a big way.

The opposition parties are actually planning to capitalise on the government’s failure to provide any relief to the people even in the second budget. It would try to build a public perception through media that the PTI, considered to be the last hope of people, had made the things worse for the people treading on the same path.

Notwithstanding its public stance of bringing an in-house change to get rid of the present order, the PPP will ultimately end up toeing to the PML-N’s line of giving some time to the present government. In the given situation when its leaders are facing accountability at the hands of NAB courts, the PML-N is not inclined to going beyond its conceived strategy of “Wait, and let the government fall under its own weight”. However, it is in favour of a mild degree of protest movement both inside and outside the Parliament.

A multi-party conference is also on the cards, most probably after the budget, but it is less likely to come up with any serious move to dislodge the government notwithstanding the fact it is not standing on its feet. It is easy to bring a no-confidence against a government ruling with a thin majority. A few numbers sliding against the government can upset the apple cart. But, perhaps the powers that be won’t approve of such a move, at least, in the present situation. The underlining message is that the PTI should be allowed to complete its term and prove it has a better governance model compared to rest of the parties.

In the given situation, the only option left with the opposition parties is to highlight government’s malfunctioning to make the people realise that PTI government was no better than the previous regimes led by the PPP and the PML-N.

Consequently, the government and the Opposition are all set to engage in a war of making perceptions about each other. This information warfare would be fought mainly on the mainstream media while social media will also play an important role. It will, in fact, be a battle of trust among the political stakeholders. They will try to gain trust of the masses by making good perception of theirs. Unfortunately, the first victim in this war will be the truth. Both sides will try hard to suppress the truth and make a fake perception about their achievements.

In the days to come, the PTI government will not be able to sell its jingle of “Don’t worry your pretty little heads about it” any more. However, in order to win the war of perception, Prime Minister Imran Khan has instructed the Punjab government to increase number of its spokespersons to counter the propaganda from the opposition parties. In line with his instructions, the Punjab government has notified names of its 25 spokespersons to do the needful. They include 12 provincial ministers, seven MPAs, one MNA and some party office-bearers including Umer Sarfraz Cheema. But the government needs to tread carefully on this issue.