Dammit. His Imminence could stomach anything but this. Even the prospect of his former paramour, with her premature kiss n’ tell, momentarily stealing his thunder. After all, he could quite easily chomp on a cigar while the storm passed. But this. Well, this was too much. To be upstaged by a man. It would never do.And yet here he stands. With Kuggoo poised to steal his still to be anointed crown. Indeed, the caged lion of the Punjab has reinvented himself as the man of the moment. With his valiant return from the scene of the crime straight into the slammer’s jaws. As if it were nothing more taxing than rushing across the forest for a little monkey business on a Sunday afternoon. How had this come to pass? Nawaz Sharif recast as a living and breathing boy scout mascot. Forever prepared. To do the right thing at the right moment. In this veritable jungle called life. Though from what Imran Khan could tell, umpires had an unfortunate habit of getting lost in the long grass; the weed. It was something to which he could relate.How had this come to pass? Nawaz Sharif recast as a boy scout mascot. Forever prepared. In this jungle called life. Though from what Kaptaan could tell, umpires had an unfortunate habit of getting lost in the long grass; the weed. It was something to which he could relateWhich was why it pleased him to think of the crackdown on PMLN workers; that un-flash mob which lacked fire in the belly but suckled on the fat cats of big industry. So unlike his own youthia. Who were never blue and always knew where to go for fashioned sit-ins. But, oh, how it pained Kaptaan to think that despite someone else’s best efforts things had gone so awry. Of course, he wasn’t referring to the 30-day detention of hundreds of Noon Leaguers. For that would have been a superb curve ball in any fixed match. No, what hurt was how all that to-do of having the city locked down had been more or less in vain. And his political rivals were to blame. Those sporting neither a seasonal turn of coat nor gloves to keep hands hidden. But who, instead, grabbed the knife to better twist it in. Deeper and deeper. All the while crying freedom with their crocodile tears. As they lamented how democracy was being taken for a very expensive ride; with the meter still running. Yet the dearest betrayal came from within. From his own party leadership who inexplicably appeared to mistake notions of taking one for the team with jumping ship for the bandwagon du jour. With its sloganeering about how the best way to counter boots on the ground is to stand as one. Undivided and Unconquered.The worst part of the elder Sharif’s return was how it drew biting comparisons with a certain enemy combatant. That military commando who had had not so much displayed guerrilla-like shock tactics as run-and-hide raids. Not that Immy was suddenly regretting any love lost for him. Though he did, of course, disempower the ballot by casting it in favour of a cosmetic makeover in civility; lasting for not a royal but a presidential six years. Yet it was the rusting of the military brass that worried His Imminence. After all, the uniform represented his ticket to ride. And it simply wouldn’t do to have its currency devalued beyond the means of legitimate refund. But this was what was happening right before his very eyes. And he, of all people, couldn’t quite understand how the snivelling Nawaz had seemingly broken with a tradition that typically saw him undertake timid inaction in the absence of get-out-of-jail guarantees stamped with foreign exit visas. Yet all that was changing. Now the PMLN chieftain had returned with his head held high; the very first self-proclaimed martyr of democracy. No National Reconciliation Ordinance required. That nine-year-old boy crushed to death by the elder Sharif’s homecoming pageant all but forgotten.All of which meant that Imran would have to think quick. While batting on the stickiest of wickets. This saw him come up with a new club remix of sorts to jazz up an old record. Whereby suddenly it was not the King’s party alone that had rigged the last elections with the help of a particular journalist-turned-cricket-councillor. Nor was it even down to the stoned and dethroned manoeuvring hand-in-glove with boot-polished “aliens” Au contraire, the sudden rewriting of revisionary history pinned the blame on two devils and their mutual pact of appreciation. And, today, both the PMLN and PPP were up to their old tricks. It was all a bit trop, truth be told. Especially when everyone who was anyone knew only too well that it was Kaptaan’s turn to go to the ball. A good thing, then, that he always kept his eye on it; in more ways than one. All the better to thwart engineered pre-poll rigging against the Skipper and his joeys. And if this meant capitalising on recent acts of terror and linking heightened tension along Pakistan’s borders to Nawaz’s return — then so be it. After all, his Imminence had spent 20 years waiting in the wings. Now was his time to shine. And nothing would stop him. Except, perhaps, that blasted loadshedding.The writer is the Deputy Managing Editor, Daily Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets @humeiwei Published in Daily Times, July 15th 2018.