Imran Khan’s personal Twitter account is followed by 12.7 million people, but he only follows 18 handles. Three of them are official Pakistan Threek-e-Insaaf (PTI) accounts, two of them are welfare projects (Shaukat Khanam and Namal Education).
This leaves a solid dozen people who have earned a follow back from the Prime Minister himself; who are they, and why does this matter?
While tweets and replies are a direct statement of a politician’s stances, who they follow is more subtle political statement. Personal relations, endorsement, and legitimacy, all can be bestowed via a simple follow back. When followed by millions and following only a handful, these choices matter.
Let us see what the Prime Minister has chosen.
Two of the 12 accounts belong to Imran Khan’s former spouse Jemima Goldsmith and her brother Ben Goldsmith. Imran Khan pointedly doesn’t follow their sibling, Zac Goldsmith, who ran the London mayoral campaign against Pakistani-British Sadiq Khan in 2016.
The most fascinating followed account is that of Jehangir Tareen. Publicly, the two have had a following out with Tareen distancing himself from the party after his role in the sugar corruption scandal was questioned by the media.
The rest of the accounts also tell an interesting story, the only people that Imran Khan follows from his own party were the core team of pre-election PTI. This includes names such as Fawad Chaudhary, Arif Alvi, Asad Umar.
Missing from the list were the later entries into the elite power circles such as Ijaz Shah or Abdul Hafeez Shaikh who have now replaced important people such as Asad Umar in the government set up.