We own a country of 230 million people. We have a strong and large army; possess nuclear weapons, rich resources including vast agricultural lands and a reasonably large industrial base; a well-recruited and well-trained civil service; and a large network of higher educational institutions. We produce hundreds of PhDs, professors, economists, engineers, and technology experts, doctors every year who do wonders in their adopted foreign countries earning fame, and treasures of wealth. We have millions of compatriots working in foreign countries sending remittances to their families, thereby contributing to the foreign exchange reserves of the country. Even then, mainly because of the dearth of leaders, the country is poor and has been dependent on foreign assistance and foreign loans since inception; its populace faces poverty; its national institutions perform poorly and have not gone beyond mediocrity; its policing is a shame; the justice is too expensive for over 80% of its population; social and economic equity has remained a distant dream despite 75 years of independence. Society has not been able to break the shackles of feudalism and tribalism. We have patiently put up with autocracy, military dictatorships and shameful democracy. We flocked to polling booths to mechanically vote into power political dynasties, their heirs, tribal chiefs and sardars believing in their repeated false promises. Society has not been able to break the shackles of feudalism and tribalism. We are rated very poorly in the international indexes in every aspect of national life – fundamental human rights, gender equality, education and healthcare, rule of law, equality before the law, justice and honesty. We have a poor record of making policies and implementing them. We have two separate criteria for the application of criminal and civil laws to the elite and the rest of the population. The rich buy justice leaving the less affluent face the long arm of law and justice. The state has always been a doting mother to the rich while treating its poor with the cruelty and callousness of the worst kind. Ironically, the state’s legal system helps the rich to escape the wrath of the law – even allowing the convicts to sneak out of the country. The elite display affiliation with the country as long as they are in power. They have made heavy investments in properties and businesses abroad; their wealth is parked in foreign banks and their children have comfortable homes in foreign capitals. The majority of the country’s former civil and military bureaucrats, after retirement, have settled abroad in North America, Europe and Australia. They have the right to do so legally. But the treasures of wealth they amassed and laundered to these countries during their active service would not have escaped the attention of the law enforcers in any law-abiding country. Hordes of former officers from all the lucrative groups of service and army, and fugitives of law live affluent lives abroad. We beg for aid but never think of eradicating corruption and extravagance in the corridors of power reducing the battalions of Ministers and bureaucrats in the federation and provinces and retrenching the redundant governmental structures. We have been alternating between autocracies, martial laws, and democracy. Our democracy is nothing short of plutocracy. Every regime has left the country economically battered, and politically and socially divided. Whether it is autocracy or shame democracy, the final arbiter of power has been the most powerful establishment of the country. It initiates political engineering and oversees the general elections and formation of political regimes. A strong and popular leader has never been able to survive their displeasure. No elected Prime Minister has ever completed his tenure. Overnight, the political parties are dismantled notwithstanding their popular strength, and new political outfits comprising the turncoats and carpetbaggers created to influence the elections. The outcome of all the elections since 1970 has been frowned upon by politicians. We still boast of a great nation and great people. We are preparing to have general elections soon. What has preceded the holding of the elections could only happen in our beloved land or any underdeveloped African nation. The entire nation has been lurking between a strong sense of fear or excitement over the dismantlement of the PTI and the banishment of its chairman despite his huge public following ever witnessed since the emergence of Z.A. Bhutto. The party’s second-tier leadership has joined the baptized IPP of Jehangir Tareen Khan under mysterious conditions. Reportedly, some senior leaders are being induced to take over the leadership of the party sidelining their chairman or carve out a new political outfit. This is the most audacious political engineering ever indulged in by any regime or establishment. The constitutionally mandatory consultations with the opposition for the selection of the Interim setups in the federation and provinces are being brazenly ignored. The leaders of PMLn and PPP have already reportedly finalized the names of Interim Prime Minister with the PPP supremo saying there is no need to consult any PTI leader on the subject. For them, Raja Riaz is the genuine opposition leader. Here in Sindh, the government has de-notified the PTI’s Haleem Adil Shaikh as opposition leader and replaced him with an MQM-P woman so that they could have an interim set-up of their choice. They will reignite the play of the ‘Sindh Card’ as usual to hoodwink gullible Sindhi voters. With all this political gerrymandering going on, the outcome of the general elections will carry no credibility at all in the eyes of the public. These results, I am afraid, will trigger a new political tug of war deepening the economic crisis the country has been facing since the ascendancy to power by the PDM leadership. The Standby Agreement with the IMF is simply an interim relief. The rehabilitation of the economy depends on structural reforms that only a popularly mandated strong government can initiate. No such government will surely emerge from these elections. We need no outside enemy. We are very much capable of undoing our country. We have been doing this unabashedly since its inception without an iota of remorse. The author was a member of the Foreign Service of Pakistan and he has authored two books.