After the Senate upset, Pakistan’s TV astrologers are unwilling to predict victory for Nawaz Sharif in the June general election — even if the stars point to his victory. It is almost certain in everyone’s estimate that he and his party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) will disappear from the political landscape like so many earlier Muslim Leagues. It will mark another case of predictable dysfunction of the state when Nawaz League perishes after not having ever completed its tenure in office. There is a lot of inter-party hatred which tilts the political landscape in favor of the establishment; but one shouldn’t forget the intra-party hatred that causes the rats to jump ship when the winds are blowing all wrong from Rawalpindi. Just as the Senate results were fixed, the 2018 election too will be fixed and the Taliban will have to play a part in it. Despite Zarb-e-Azb, they will be a threat to the parties that are not supposed to win, and their campaigns will be affected. Like last time, when Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP) had to accept staying at home and thus hand the field over to PMLN and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The election result will deliver a coalition at the center and a likely coalition in Punjab, after which the predictably brawling partners in power will deliver all decision-making to the real powers-that-be. That means Pakistan will start dealing “honorably” with its two enemies, the United States and India. But the most hair-raising part of the new regime will be “accountability” and “mainstreaming”. Prime Minister Imran Khan will cleanse the Augean stables, bringing all economic function to a standstill; and jihad, to which he has been paying money to survive in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, will be mainstreamed. Some signs of this mainstreaming will have emerged clearly in the 2018 polls too when outfits like Labbaik defeat parties like the PPP and PMLN. Published in Daily Times, March 23rd 2018.