Ban and make it bigger. Ban and make it more attractive. Ban and make it more alluring. Ban and make it sought after. Not every time, but most of the time. Ever since Adam and Eve defied God’s will and ate the forbidden apple, the subject of limiting human choices has intrigued mankind. Human beings are born with this desire for freedom. The fact that a human can think, analyze and make choices is the freedom that distinguishes it from other creations. The most revered is the choice of freedom. A child reacts to a “NO” before it starts crawling. This reaction gets amplified as it grows. Thus in many ways, reverse psychology is used to get the desired behaviour by forbidding it. Reverse psychology is based on the idea that it’s possible to advocate for a behaviour that is opposite to the one that is desired. This is done to trigger the person to do the opposite of what is being suggested. In the psychology sphere, it’s referred to as “paradoxical intervention.” A father suggesting that his son can’t afford to buy his mother a birthday present, challenging him to do the reverse, actually works. Normally, products are sold with the deliberate use of this human instinct. Ban an advertisement and people die to watch it. Ban a book in a country and the rest of the world sells it like hotcakes. On the other hand, dangerous and unhealthy things need to be banned. Drugs, pornography, etc are prohibitive and need to be banned along with heavy education to make people understand its deadly effects. Politics is a great case study of reverse psychology and Pakistan, its great example. Chairman of the largest political party, Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf, Imran Khan, was recently ousted through a narrow vote of no confidence in the National Assembly. Democratic leaders come and go with minimum public reaction. Thus, it was anticipated to be a normal occurrence with some loud talk but nothing that endures. What has happened in the last four months is shocking and beyond belief. The public, in the most adverse conditions, has come out on anything and everything in such huge numbers that the government and the establishment are now at a dead end of options. They tried using media to build a narrative of incompetence, bad governance, and finally, terrorism. It has all backfired. They tried defeating PTI in elections and it has lashed back at them in terms of losing Punjab. Now they are trying to ban the party, ban the speeches and ban the leader. This strategy of banning is and will have a reverse psychology impact due to four major factors: The famous icon of chains being broken has now become a social media symbol of a struggle of good against evil. The psychology of a forced imported regime: Nothing produces stronger emotion than the feeling of living in forced occupied territory. In our neighbourhood, Afghanistan and Kashmir have fought for decades wars against Americans and Indians to free themselves. When Chairman Imran Khan, in his speech in April, revealed the US Cipher story and just by the way mentioned “Imported Government Na Manzoor” it became the slogan of this movement. The people of Pakistan felt outraged at how could a foreign country decide who gets to lead Pakistan. The reverse psychology of “Na Manzoor” is very strong. It evokes defiance. It evokes public retaliation. Negative rejection provokes patriotism and basic human values. “Ghulami Namanzoor” is much more stronger in the mind and heart than “We want a free Pakistan.” The famous icon of chains being broken has now become a social media symbol of a struggle for good against evil. That is why the response has been so universal and crossed all divides of class, cadre and ages. The refusal to accept a “managed” media: Na Manzoor is a fight against all traditional powers. Some of the media is infamous in Pakistan for towing the money and power line. Unfortunately, the present regime and the establishment have not learned the new rules of communication. They have gone ahead to ban channels, ban anchors, ban live speeches, and even fiddle with social media. That has added fuel to the reverse psychology of people proving them wrong. The Youtube revolution has already made the government’s attempts to curb viewership look ridiculous. It has now become a match for people. TikTok is churning out clips of PTI jalsas in a second more than all programming of all electronic channels put together. What were once just claims are now authenticated by facts brought forward by the public. Speeches made by the Prime minister shown live draw hardly a few thousand views. Speeches made by Imran Khan that are banned on electronic media draw millions of views. The more the government tries to curb the media the more the viewer punishes them by making record after record of views after every speech of Imran Khan. The psychology of overturning a rigged election: Another psychology that worked wonders was to emphasize to the people that the election commission, along with the establishment, is confident of engineering the by-election. This communication that each voter has to fight and protect their vote against a system that is arrogant in its intent and experience, turned the by-election into an all-out grand slam. The way each voter fought against the delisting of their votes, polling booth antics to rig the votes, post voting fiddling of results was like a battle the public will die but not give up. This has upset the government and allies to the extent that now they are not daring to hold elections and have been constantly postponing local body elections. This is perhaps the biggest upset in decades as never has a side really won elections after 1970 without the support of the powerful institutions. The public court vs legal court: The above victories have emboldened the public. When the courts opened at midnight on the day of no-confidence, there was such public outrage that the courts had to open at midnight for the Punjab repolling appeal to appear non-discriminatory. Similarly, as the news spread that Chairman PTI would be arrested at dawn on the frivolous case of terrorism, thousands upon thousands collected outside the Bani Gala and all around the country to deter the relevant institutions from taking this baseless action. The more the strong-arm tactics of the government and establishment, the more the fuel to the psychology of public rejection. The constant defiance has made the government look like a loser and the public a winner. These public rebellion victories shattering down many hitherto unbreakable forts have created a new self-belief in people. They have broken the myth of the establishment being the ultimate power in this country. They have shattered this image of Pakistanis being indifferent to the politics of the country. They have smashed this concept that the media narrative cannot be challenged and changed. Even the international media is now looking at almost disbelief at what is happening in Pakistan. In a recent article in the magazine Foreign Policy article titled “Imran Khan’s Revolution,” the columnist writes that “Khan has broken the taboos of Pakistani politics. In doing so, he may have kicked off the beginning of a digital democratic revolution.” Whatever the result may be, this amazing turnaround of public rethink, rebelief and redo will remain a matter of political communication studies for decades to come. The writer is a columnist, consultant, coach, and an analyst and can be reached at andleeb.abbas1@gmail,com. She tweets at @AndleebAbbas.