Tech-savvy Pak politicians increasingly using tweets to communicate with voters

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Islamabad, Jan 15(ANI): The widespread popularity of social networking sites and other Internet-based tools have led certain tech-savvy Pakistani politicians to use them liberally to communicate with voters and complain about their opponents.

"In a country where 60 per cent of the population is under the age of 25, the power of these tools may prove critical for campaigning politicians," Razeshta Sethna, an editor at the Herald, wrote in the Dawn.

She noted that Twitter, on which one can post 140-word 'tweets', is exciting for political engagement because it is not as formal as traditional methods of connecting with constituents through posters, flyers, press briefs, travel campaigns, radio and television.

"It is a powerful new way to influence and engage, with the potential to usher in radical transformations in the ways citizens influence their governments and how frequently politicians connect with the public," she said.

Although an insignificant size of the voting population use the Internet (approximately 25 million by May 2010), the users still allow PML-Q parliamentarian Marvi Memon, presidential spokesperson Farahnaz Ispahani, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Senator Mushahid Hussain, among many others, to talk politics with a personal bent, said Razeshta.

She noted that the "infamously provocative Salman Taseer's tweets" were injected with wit, lending insight into the thoughts of a liberal politician commenting on political opponents. He had tweeted before his assassination: "I was under huge pressure 2 cow down b4 rightest pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I'm the last man standing."

As Twitter gains more users by the day and Facebook battles to crown Pakistan's star politician gain contenders (the slot is presently occupied by Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, named 'Connector of the Day' by the CNN last year), Razeshta wondered whether these approaches to social media would shape Pakistan politics.

She pointed out that presently, the ruling party and opposition politicians, who dominate Twitter chatter, only get a "small volume of responses" from supporters and interested observers.

Although Urdu tweeting is becoming a possibility, Razeshta said, the "tweeting wars" for the selection of 'honest, idea-oriented and cutting edge politicians still seem to be a thing of the future for Pakistan.' (ANI)

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