Pakistan now has 70 million mobile subscribers . This is more than the 67 million registered voters (population above 18 years of age) as of the 2002 general elections (see page 7 of the statistics report [pdf] of the ECP). This, at least in theory, means that the 2007 elections, if held as scheduled, will see every voter carrying a cellular phone.
It seems logical that just this factor can have a significant impact on Pakistan’s politics – at least in terms of the urban votes. So why does carrying a phone by every voter mean anything to our politics? Consider this:
- People are now talking to each other more than ever – between newer and remotest of the places.
- The (presumably young and literate) population sent over a billion text messages (just on the Eid day alone) a lot of it containing political contents and opinions
- Politics is coming of the TV age to enter the world of cellular activism – remember the heat the lawyers community was able to generate with their campaign recently?
Pakistan’s political scene remains ridden with question marks but what is certain that an urban population more aware than ever will be affected by the deep cellular penetration and text messaging. The next elections will have effects of this ‘connected population’ for sure. The smarter of the political lot will take their battle to this new front for the upcoming polls.