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When I play cricket, I try to follow Virat Kohli as I consider him as the best batsman in the world right now. I watch his videos, keeping a close eye on his foot work, his trigger movement, his stance and the way he transfers weight while playing a shot. And that’s it. I don’t care about his hair style or hair color. His shoes make no difference to me. What’s up between Anushka and him doesn’t attract my attention.
I don’t buy anything because I see Virat Kohli starring in its advertisement. I don’t get annoyed if somebody puts Hashim Amla or Steve Smith above Kohli; it’s their perspective and I have no problem with that. Even if somebody makes fun of Kohli, my blood pressure remains normal and I share laughter. You know why? Because I like Virat Kohli – the cricketer; and I have nothing to do with The Brand – Virat Kohli.
Above is the simple explanation of how you differentiate between a brand loyalist and cricket follower. Though the comparison may not look cent per cent accurate, but that’s the case of Pakistan politics these days where Imran Khan specially, and other leaders generally, are being treated as a brand by their loyalists. You want to check that mentality, give it a try, post any comment on PTI page regarding bad governance of KPK or share any fact about corruption of N-League; brand loyalists will put you at the longer end of the stick. Even if you try to perform the onerous task of satisfying them by using facts, figures, argument, etc., you will fail, big time.
The biggest problem with this Brand Loyalty is with-us-or-against-us approach. You can’t be loyal to competitive brands anyways. It’s either Coke or Pepsi. Apropos of this brand-battle, you can’t say that Coke ads are better because they have a family-value but Pepsi tastes better. In the same way, it’s just next to impossible to appreciate PML-N on some accounts while posting positive stuff for PTI regarding other accounts. As soon as you say a word in the support of PML-N, you will be maligned and defamed, through in and throughout, for being Patwari, Noora-supporter
The funniest piece of this political jigsaw puzzle is the brand loyalty of JI Chief Siraj-ul-Haq. His brand loyalists are focused on how beautiful he looks with his titled hat; how simple he is for putting up same waist coat for last 15 years; his peshawari chappal needs to be changed but he is persisting with the same pair even after several requests from the cobbler. You literally have to dig out deep for their stance regarding country’s policy matters and even then, you find nothing but confusion and ambiguity.
Supporters of political parties should revisit their strategy towards their respective leaders. Follow the party you like and appreciate the leader you want but keep your focus on policy, principle and procedure rather than individual. Imran Khan’s fitness is admirable for elderly but it has nothing to with his ability to run the country, or for now, the party. I am not saying that PTI is the only party where brand loyalists are in abundance with very few serious followers; this trend is everywhere today; but I believe that PTI is the trendsetter in this regard.
Brand loyalty turns a sensible follower into blind loyalist who is unable to think clearly. His thoughts are always pre-occupied and his opinions are prejudiced. It robs him off his common sense and he is unable to listen to any criticism towards his leader. He is ready to defend his leader, no matter what. And the most dangerous part is, the leader knows that too.