The Personality Cults of Pakistan


A personality cult is defined as excessive public admiration for or devotion to a famous person, esp. a political leader. In other words, a cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.

Unfortunately, this is exactly how political parties are structured in . Take the top five parties in Pakistan and each and every one fits the definition of a personality cult. What follows is a brief introduction of the cults that pass for political parties in Pakistan. So here is a brief description and composition of the .

Pakistan Political Parties


Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz

This party is centered on the Sharif family. The current focuses of admiration are the two brothers, Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif. In addition, there is a line of crown princes and princesses, each with an active role in the provincial government and party setup.


Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarian

This party is home to the oldest and most enduring cults in Pakistan, the Bhuttos. The present setup, the Zardari Gang wields the name of the original inspirations of the cult namely Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto. The eldest son of former leader of the cult Benazir Bhutto is the new object of fascination for the cultist. Although, the original name of the boy is Bilawal Zardari, the cult uses the stage name of Bilawal ‘Bhutto’ Zardari to keep the faithful interested in the cult,


Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

The latest cult to hit the country is the PTI. Centered on the former cricketer turned messiah of the country, Imran Khan, this is the cult with the fresh blood in its veins. This is not necessarily a good thing as the recent elections and the subsequent government in KPK has proved. This cult has the most visible fault lines with the cult divided into various factions based on personal wealth, age and social media prowess.


Muttahida Qaumi Movement- Altaf

MQM-A is perhaps the most interesting of the lot. Its leader is Altaf Hussain who is in self-exile for almost 21 years. Despite his absence, MQM-A has managed to remain a somewhat cohesive entity with an impressive bargaining power in provincial and federal politics. However, this cohesiveness is due to the now fabled motto of the cult “Jo Quid ka Ghadaar hay, Who Mout ka Haqdaar hay” (Death to the Traitor). Of course, the Quid in question, Altaf Hussain, has always denied the allegations.


Awami National Party

ANP does not hide what it is- a one family for profit enterprise masquerading as a political party. The cult was established by Bacha Khan, a devout nationalist who never veered from his vision of a Phustun homeland. Of course, this vision was not feasible as a money generating scheme so it was scrapped by the decedents of the Bacha Khan.

In addition, there are many small parties ranging from one man operation to splinter groups of the mainstream parties. One consistent theme that is easy to see in all these parties is the central figure of the leader who is all knowing and cannot be questioned.

This is the root cause of what ails Pakistan. The day the political system of Pakistan moves beyond the hero worship, the country would see some major improvement in the plight of the people.



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