In the developing world, the role of establishment in political affairs is a necessary feature. It matters, because security issues and rampant poverty in post-colonial era continue to haunt at the expense of fundamental human rights and democratic evolution. Politics in these countries is thorny and ripe for corruption with less regards to accountability and responsibility. Therefore, ‘deeper security state’ calls the short in the face of existential threats to the state and society. Pakistan is no exception, an epitome of institutional imbalances, where pendulum of power oscillates between two ends, igniting a continuous struggle for power between civil and military institutions. Domestically, a political reshuffle-cum-struggle is underway since the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the charges of corruption by the apex court in July last year. An aggrieved Sharif and his political aides interpreted the decision as victimisation and accused the judiciary of colluding against him at the behest of establishment. Sharif and his ambitious daughter, Maryam Nawaz, launched an offensive war of words directed against state institutions with a tone indirectly threatening of dire consequences. This attitude is unbecoming of a three-time elected prime minister, who also happened to be a blue-eyed guy of the establishment in the past. Much is being discussed and predicted about the future political landscape of the country in the aftermath of 2018 general elections. What Sharif family is passing through is a quite visible internal strife on the question of ‘who would succeed Nawaz Sharif as the leader of the PML N. Pathological fractures, as BBC Urdu reports, is a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the ruling party, since the emergence of two factions is impending with Shahbaz Sharif allegedly supported by the Rawalpindi. Considering the policy choices against the backdrop of daunting political and security challenges at home and abroad, options with the security establishment are the scarcest. The worsening of Pak-US relations on the question of alleged safe havens and the latter’s unconditional support to revisionist India in Indo-pacific region and in Afghanistan as preferred ally has caused security dilemma in Pakistan. Peace and order in Balochistan, FATA, and Karachi demands domestic stability and prudent handling. On international fronts, security establishment can deal economic and security issues with the help of China and Russia; but, at home it requires a political set up of its own suiting for a matchable response to the Indo-US-Afghan nexus, that can sabotage Pakistan’s economic life line — CPEC and undermine security in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif’s drive against establishment attracted peculiar options on domestic political chessboard: divide the party into factions; divide the province into two or three regions; or, keep the party intact replacing the agonised elder Sharif with the ready-to-comply Shahbaz Sharif Establishment has historically drawn its power from Punjab, the largest province of the country. And in Pakistan, no political party can even imagine forming government in centre without securing Punjab that makes 183 (53 per cent) seats out of 342 in Parliament. The very province, by the virtue of structural manipulations, is in firm grip of the PML-N for almost three decades. Supreme Court’s decision might have shaken the roots of ruling party in media and among politically conscious class of Pakistan in urban centre, but in traditionalist rural Punjab, the support base of PML-N seems to be impassive. NA 120 polls just few days after the momentous decision is evident that party still retains political mileage against the expectations of many in decision making circles. A former faithful, Nawaz Sharif’s drive against establishment attracted peculiar options on domestic political chessboard: divide the party into factions; divide the province into two or three; keep the party intact replacing the agonised elder Sharif with the ready-to-comply Shahbaz Sharif. Employing the first two options to reduce defiant Nawaz Sharif to no avail would undermine security establishment’s decisive ability of political manoeuvring at the national level. Third option is more feasible because of multiple reasons. Investing into Imran Khan has always been a prêt-à-porter option. His magnetic charisma and immense ability to galvanise the masses into streets can best be used as pressure tactic against non-conformists. But Khan is unpredictable when compared with Shahbaz, because the former cannot be dictated to the desired ends. Whereas, the younger Sharif not only has a past to be trusted upon but also has earned a favourable repute in Beijing, Riyadh and Ankara. This makes him a perfect man to do the bid upon. Imran Khan’s anguish is not incomprehensible who has envisioned himself as the next PM of Pakistan. What deposed Sharif fails to understand is that his legalist and moralist stance on his removal [though after his failure to defend his staggering riches as legal] as defendant of liberal democracy and sanctity of vote, will not pay off as he anticipates. He has embarked his march for democracy when liberal democracy itself is on the retreat because it has failed to deliver its ‘over promises’ — committed in early 1990s just after the US unipolar moment. Adding insult to the injury, while populist Trump is the White House, world has lost the extravagance of US support for democracy. Worldwide populist tide has exposed the relationship of liberal democracy and capitalism as nothing but a device to keep the rich in power. Arab Spring is yet another eye opener, where people took to streets for democracy and descended into bloody civil wars — losing everything to the violence. States today, are increasingly moving towards a world that more suits to the assumptions of ‘Orderism’. The exponents of this political ideology prefer security and stability over democracy as vital prerequisites for the state. Modi of India, Erdogan of Turkey, and Putin’s Russia all majoritarianists alike are the glaring example of ‘Orderist’ thinking. Rightly so, in Pakistan no one can rule out the role of establishment in political maneuvering of political affairs. Considering the changing scenarios in Afghanistan and shifting alliance system in South Asia, National Security Adviser General Janjua’s meeting with Nawaz Sharif and the latter’s engagements with the Saudi leadership are understandable. This arrangement is a domestic-external interwoven strategy aimed at fixing problems at home and abroad making it a perfect counter offensive-defence strategy against the threats emanating from within Pakistan, Afghanistan and South Asian region. This will not be judged as extraordinary in Pakistan. For the restoration of democracy, if National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) can be made accepted; by those standards, for the attainment of cherished peace and stability, this arrangement will be co-opted as the new normal. The writer is a PhD candidate at National Defence University Islamabad Published in Daily Times, January 5th 2018.