I would never ever believe that Pakistan was — is or will ever be — a banana republic. There is a clothing brand by that name in the United States. Though, the creation of this country was nothing short of a miracle. From the 1940 resolution onwards, it took the founding fathers just seven years to make it a reality. Miracles haven’t ended ever since. The country has survived four martial laws and extra-constitutional steps by military rulers. It never looked back after a major military defeat when the majority province broke away. It agreed on a constitution but kept violating it over and over again, without any serious consequence for the violators. No number of debacles has bothered the rulers — civilian or military. The country’s leadership has happily participated in other people’s wars and hasn’t taken much offence when others declared war on us, violated our sovereignty, fired missiles and drones and landed troops on our soil. All those who came to power followed a set of unwritten rules. A small informal club of civilian and military elite was always there to rule, take turns, grab and share the riches, concealed overseas and in basements within the country. A big miracle that has kept the country afloat — despite all the loot and plunder — has been the hundreds of billions of dollars sent in remittances by Pakistanis toiling overseas. These billions have come as a gift, at no cost, with no interest to be paid and have been generously pocketed by the elite club. Nawaz Sharif made a mockery of the Constitution by amending it through force of numbers to get re-elected as the party president. This move not only weakened him but also exposed democracy as totally devoid of any credibility This small club was enjoying and frolicking, smoothly moving from one phase to another until recently when something happened that has created turmoil inside these power circles. Either it was loot and plunder that went berserk, becoming intolerable for some because they did not get their fair share, or the club saw influx of new younger, educated and conscientious breed of members, some of whom came from the middle- and lower-middle classes as against the ruling cadres of waderas, pirs, and chaudhrys and their overlords. Whatever happened, the system got unhinged and fissures got created that quickly became wide gulfs. The political elite developed serious differences after a long period of collusion that had worked smoothly for all. The civil-military combo also got rocked. The powers-that-be took a back seat, quietly watching but never actually surrendering completely. Civilians misread the situation and sometimes, in zealous over-confidence, challenged them publicly. So we have got to a situation when both the major politicians in the country at the moment seem to be on the guard. One after warning the generals to demolish them brick-by-brick and the second accusing them of colluding with the judges to dislodge a government which got mired in corruption scams that fell as heavenly bricks over its head. The people of Pakistan have had no major role in this infighting of the elite club. With no party able to fix the match, the situation seems to have gotten untenable. Some examples of mistakes that would normally be considered fatal in such circumstances are: – A leader who always believed he would ‘manage and handle’ judges and generals lost his mind when both refused to play along. He now threatens to bring about a Fall-of-Dhaka type situation. – The government formed following the Panama Papers case decision refuses to abandon the leader, thus creating immeasurable confusion and a power vacuum. – The same leader, who would have never thought of getting unseated and dragged into small courts along with his family, has swiftly moved his assets and family members abroad, leaving behind a dummy government that could not last long if the leader abandons the country. – The elected government in Sindh, run through remote by the other power player, is a hostage in the hands of the military because it has failed to reform the police force and control law and order. The Rangers — read military — have done a quick job and are virtually controlling the reins of power. – The same government is living under a permanent threat of facing equally stiff, if not worse, accountability. So the leader is always 30 minutes away from his private jet that could take him away. – As a pre-emptive move, it has abolished the NAB structures in the province but many of its leaders and accomplices are already in custody of the military. They cannot escape. – As Nawaz Sharif got frustrated and desperate, he made a mockery of the Constitution by amending it through force of numbers to get him re-elected as the party president. This move not only weakened him but also exposed democracy as totally devoid of any credibility. The parliament was confirmed as a rubber stamp. – A nervous, disoriented and clueless government of PML-N still continues to be run by the ousted PM, thus confirming a governance deadlock. – The Finance Minister — indicted and charged — continues to cling on to his job and no one has the courage to remove him. The economy is running like a headless chicken. – An interior minister, who should be upholding the law, appears at court premises to support those accused of corruption and, in doing so, picks up a fight with the military, calling the country a banana republic. He threatens to resign but not so soon. – Amid all this chaos, the military comes under fire from all sides — the deposed leader, his family, his party’s government ministers, and overseas governments who look friendly towards the deposed PM and sections of the friendly media. – The generals put their heads together for hours at a ‘special’ Corps Commanders meeting but are unable to say a word about what happened afterwards. A spokesman of the Defence Ministry could have issued a statement, if it was such a difficult job for the ISPR. The silence of the generals can be taken to mean a lot of things, but in no way does it compare to the 1991 Oscar-winning Hollywood horror-thriller Silence of the Lambs. The writer is a senior journalist. Twitter: @Ssehbai1 Published in Daily Times, October 6th 2017.