Could Web 2.0 bring transparency to Pakistani politics?
Oh no, you’re thinking. Not another article about the greatness of Twitter and Facebook. Rest assured, this will have some plaudits but is a more holistic look at Web 2.0 and Pakistan.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking – and writing about – how viral marketing has affected Pakistan. The success of Coke Studio, the telecom operators war including the snarky ad targeting Zong that Ufone released on the Internet, the mass appeal of Facebook. In an urban context, Pakistan has seen Facebook literally replace many forms of usual social interaction. But could that also be applied to Pakistani politics?
Not known for their level of decorum (the frequent screaming matches in the provincial and national assemblies are an example to the contrary) is it possible that once more politicians – particularly the younger lot – migrate to Web 2.0 platforms like Twitter and Facebook, they could become more accountable for their actions?
Fairly optimistic, you’d think. But the first stirrings are there: politicians – particularly those who pen op/ed columns (such as the acerbic and witty Ayaz Amir) and put their email addresses out in print – have been able to get direct feedback from Pakistanis, perhaps even, their own constituents. Secondly, the example of Pakistan Muslim League-Q parliament member Marvi Memon, who tweets at an extremely speedy rate during the day, is one that could serve as an example. While the tweets may be fairly incomprehensible at times (she has a tendency to abbreviate every word) it does provide an insight into what exactly elected representatives do all day long – a manufactured glimpse of which has appeared through the Geo TV show, Aik Din Geo Ke Saath.While she only has 258 followers on Twitter (I’m following her on 2 accounts, so that’s 256) and barely replies back to Twitter users asking her questions – it would be interesting to see if she can forge an online debate with Pakistanis using the website. Other politicians have also started developing websites and blogs.
While direct questioning of elected representatives is still an elusive dream for millions of Pakistanis, is there any way possible that the Internet could provide a start? Here’s to hoping it can.