Recent administrative improvements made by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) have left little room for the Pakistani deep state to engineer the elections at the national level.This is something the military establishment has been doing since the country was founded. Their aim?To achieve the kind of democracy that suits them, a farcical one.Now they are left with no other option but to opt for decades old tactics, incentivizing or threatening election candidates. Certain voices allege that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) received support from certain elements in the Pakistan Army in the 2013 elections. Apparently, former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Kiyani,believed Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan wasn’t ready or mature enough to be given a large share of the federal power pool.This is how Nawaz Sharif – who had erected a bureaucratic class loyal to him over the past few decades -got a two third majority, defying even the establishment’s projections. Imran Khan will probably form a weak coalition government following the elections, which will leave him with little — if any — room to confront his current backers. As a consequence of this, after the government was formed a control variable in the form of self-styled ‘Mullah’ Tahir-ul-Qadri, was brought in from Canada to curtail Nawaz, who was beginning to assert his constitutional power. It is possible that Imran wasn’t sure about the rigging initially, but claimed that it had happened anyway to console his supporters, who were expecting a landslide victory. If rigging did indeed take place in 2013, Imran most likely still wouldn’t have been in a position to form a majority government in the centre. However, his numbers game in the Parliament would have been much better off. Nawaz would not be in a position to form a majority government either.Eventually, General Zaheer-ul-Islam’s visit to Bani Gala made it clear to the PTI’s top leadership that Nawaz was no longer in the good books of the ‘Aliens’.PTI struck when the iron was hot, and the rest is history. Now that the establishment’s doctrine is in place, there are widespread incidents of party candidates being incentivized or threatened into towing the establishment’s line. Numerous candidates from various parties have received anonymous phone calls, telling them to join the PTI. Apparently, even Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader Ali Wazir has received such a call. Some have been aggressively pressurized, especially PML-N loyalists. It must be said that if all of this is true, it could not be happening without the patronage of the highest ranking officials from the Pakistan Army. One particular incident which received wide coverage on social media but not on mainstream television channels was a video of a PML-N candidate for a Provincial Assembly seat contesting from PP-219 (Multan IX), Iqbal Siraj. In the video, Siraj claimed that he was repeatedly invited to the local office of the country’s premier intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). When he got there, he was manhandled and threatened to give up his PML-N ticket.He was also told if he stood his ground, his business and his family would be harmed. Nawaz Sharif has also claimed that someone is threatening his MPAs and MNAs. Though eventually,Siraj made another video in which he contradicted everything he had said before. It seems like the upcoming elections will be a replica of the 2002 general elections, where pre-polling rigging was the decisive factor instead of rigging conducted on the day of the polls, like in 2013.Like today, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) played a major role then as well. In a February 2008 interview with a national daily newspaper, former head of the ISI’s political cell, General Ehtisham Zamir admitted that he had played a major role in rigging the 2002 elections, and that he had received orders to do so from General Pervez Musharraf himself. In the same interview, while reminiscing his blunders,General Ehtisham confessed that his actions had derailed the country’s growth and that he was ashamed of his past. Another close associate of Musharraf, General Jamshed Ayaz, has openly stated that the majority of the Corps Commanders opposed Musharraf’s decision to patronize the PML-Q. The military establishment never learns from it’s mistakes.But what does happen every once in a while is that a retired alien, either in need of attention or to lighten his conscience eventually spills the beans. Those who don’t feel the need to do so are either still in service (their services can be rented as well, by Saudi Arabia for instance) or are busy paying visits to Maulana Tariq Jameel. I do admire their discipline though. You’d never come across an alien responding to the ‘call of conscience’ during service.According to Mehakma-e-Zaraat(agricultural department) of outer space, those aliens who don’t comply with the organization’s policy risk losing their promised land in MHA (Martian Housing Authority).That’s how the intergalactic Mehakma-e-Zaraat breeds loyalty in their rank and file, quite similar to British Colonial practice. However let’s just project what’s waiting for Pakistan in the near future.Nawaz has been awarded a ten year prison sentence, and Imran Khan is now the establishment’s blue eyed boy. He will probably form a weak coalition government following the elections, which will leave him with little — if any — room to confront his current backers. If he attempts to tussle with them anyway, he is likely to face intra-party mutiny and the wrath of the religious extremists he seems so fond of, followed by another judicial knockout. The writer is a Research Assistant to Editor News TFT & also working as a Market research analyst for an Engineering Consultancy based in Munich.He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @beingkamil Published in Daily Times, July 7th 2018.