You must have heard of the idiom that those who dig a pit for other will fall in it themselves. When our establishment digs a pit, it takes the entire nation down and still doesn’t learn a lesson. The latest scheme that the establishment is working on is, destroying the fragile political system of the country. This was never an awfully challenging task since political parties are at loggerheads with each other and there is a lack of basic institutional ethos to coherently respond to attack from an organised and resourceful establishment. Should shortcomings within political parties provide license to the establishment and judiciary to trample over them? Of course not. With all their imperfections, political parties represent the will of the masses, and military and judiciary have their own domains of influence as prescribed by the constitution regardless of the state of affairs of political parties. But this is crude power politics where constitution, laws, morals, and ethics are nothing more than nuisance for the powerful. When a rival is gaining strength, you do everything you can to bring him down until he gets powerful enough that you make an ally out of him. For too long in our history, the military enjoyed maximum control over our society until the judiciary broke through its glass ceiling after the Iftikhar Chaudhry affair. Now it seeks to gain more strength by standing with the biggest bully in the ground. Both these institutions have aimed their guns toward a political system which is slowly recovering from the systematic suppression enforced on it during Musharraf’s dictatorship. The establishment has thus strategically struck a potential rival in Nawaz Sharif before he could demand control over the country’s foreign and domestic security policy riding on a likely win in the 2018 general elections. The latest judicial coup has created an uncertainty where all major political powers stand discredited on one pretext or the other. When Nawaz Sharif is corrupt, Asif Zardari is incompetent and corrupt, and Imran Khan has questionable morals, there is no one left to channel the will of the masses and challenge the establishment’s control over the country’s resources. This scenario might favour the establishment in the short-term, but does not bode well for the country. Let alone the current instability which negatively impacts the economy, weakening of the political structure poses a fundamental threat to the viability of our society. Democracy, however weak, works as an invisible binding force which holds the society together and allows the masses to vent their frustrations and feel important. More so in societies such as ours where elites have categorical control, democracy becomes a crucial tool for the masses to channel some of those resources their way. In general, several competing local elites jostle for votes from the masses in any given constituency and end up negotiating deals with clans, sub-clans, neighbourhoods, and villages in exchange for electoral support. Once they get elected, the elites protect their supporters from public institutions like the police and local judiciary. Although such an arrangement puts some groups at a disadvantage, rotation of rival elite groups in power ensures that their respective supporters gain some benefits from the system over time. The latest judicial coup is yet another pit that will leave the entire nation suffering while retired generals will continue to shamelessly preach to us about true democracy and good governance on television news shows in the coming years This arrangement is by no means ideal but brings some respite to the masses who would otherwise be trampled by the elite in the absence of democracy. Voters in urban Sindh already feel disenfranchised as their primary choice, however flawed, is barred from taking part in the electoral process. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has a history of suppression by the state whereas Balochistan is already estranged from the mainstream and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa(KP) is reeling from terrorism. Disrespecting the peoples’ mandate from central Punjab as well will produce severe repercussions as the masses increasingly feel that they are being marginalised by the state. Please bear in mind that a modern state is nothing more than the trust that the masses have over its capability to protect their interests. This trust will suffer immensely as the political process is weakened. Due to lack of political options, some sections of the masses would unwittingly turn towards other violent means to extract resources from the state. Our history shows that chaos and violence has spilled into the mainstream with every dictatorship and things slowly normalise with the return of the democratic process. While there might not be an outpouring of people in the streets to support Nawaz Sharif, the masses may increasingly join organisations harbouring extremist ideologies like Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnat and Sunni Tehreek, while a disenfranchised public is also more susceptible to sudden large-scale outbursts following a relative calm. The establishment may feel confident in its ability to control unwanted scenarios as they arrive, but it should be reminded of the extraordinary loss suffered by the nation during the past decades as a direct result of its pro-extremist policies. The latest judicial coup is yet another pit that will leave the entire nation suffering while retired generals will continue to shamelessly preach us about true democracy and good governance on television news shows in the coming years. The writer is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Administration at Cleveland State University. He can be reached at email@example.com. His twitter handle is @RamblingSufi Published in Daily Times, August 6th 2017.