Strategies and tactics of psychological warfare, employed to take over the ‘hearts and minds’ of people were thoroughly used during the recently concluded Elections, 2018. They utilised tools such as colourful pamphlets, attractive banners produced by expensive electronic and media houses, and social media spread their campaigns far and wide. Moreover a wide variety of delicious, spicy food present at each jalsa, coupled with lofty promises made during door to door election campaigns. Speeches by the candidates only focused on manipulating the masses by highlighting their own achievements and condemning their opponents to the fires of hell. The Internet provided a platform for mass conspiracy, mind control and manipulation. Were the minds of voters hijacked by psychological terrorists? Were covert and overt techniques used to turn people against political opponents? These are questions time will answer in short while; when members have taken oath and ministries have been announced. Around the time of the elections, Pakistani voters were strained due to the extremely confusing political conditions, hot weather and lack of knowledge surrounding the democratic system. Furthermore the economic conditions, regarding high inflation, rising dollar rate, increase in petrol prices contributed to the growing frustrations of the common man. The country was already shocked by the midnight announcement of a court decision that put important political leaders behind bars. The case sounded more like an entertainment fest on social media and TV news channels — rather than the process of the honourable Supreme Court. Political opponents took full advantage of these court proceedings, exploiting them to the best of their political advantage, all the while using language unfit for contesting or electable parliamentary candidates. The court case was highlighted throughout the electoral campaigns, and in light of the Chief Justice’s suo motto, a fear of uncertainty was created by official of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Speeches by the candidates only focused on manipulating the masses by highlighting their own achievements and condemning their opponents to the fires of hell Furthermore the establishment was unfairly blamed for conducting an illicit campaign to influence the country’s 2018 general elections, mobilising teams of experts in psychological warfare to ensure that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) beats her main rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) office denied all these allegations in a timely and honest manner; through the Senate of Pakistan, press releases and press conferences. There was an aggressive online campaign on multiple platforms that fuelled public anger towards PML (N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Rumors were aired that independent members are being purchased (at 10 crores and 5 crores per MNA and MPA seat)by apolitical party, which were later denied by the accused party. Finally there is a race to form coalition governments, as the expected ruling parties have to get all legislation passed through the Upper House where they lack majority. Coalition government merits include consensual or majority based decisions considering views of more than one party. While provincial aspirations will be at play — this coalition will favour nationalism and subsequently, lower provincialism. Which we hope will decrease the tyranny of the government, making it more responsible. However coalition governments can also be unstable, and the process of decision making could be time consuming. We fear that at times national interests will be compromised to make provincial accommodations such as a consensus on Kalabagh Dam. Generally, appeasement policies will be more apparent than developmental policy. Once again my previous thesis bears merit; that a key characteristic of the 2018 elections has been psychological warfare, intended to influence public opinion without providing much substantive evidence. It seems as though integrity of character and sound leadership qualities are missing from our current political leaders. Moreover Pakistani people seem content to just watch videos, press statements and jalsas of political leaders who are dancing and singing, in their lust for power. This will just carry on in the parliament and assemblies alongside the numbers game and uncertainty which will prevail both in the elected bodies and the masses that voted in these politicians. The change that people are desperate to feel- will be overshadowed by more political drama, scenes of love and hate, in assemblies, which will just provide them with more entertainment and no change. The writer is PhD and former director IIRO (Saudi Arabia) in Pakistan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, August 8th 2018.