Over the last three months the newly installed government of PTI has done all that it had promised it would never do if it came to power. Be it Imran Khan’s naïve promises of austerity, a smaller cabinet of ministers and advisors, a no to loans and IMF programmes, a depoliticized police force, a PTV operating as independently as does the BBC, and countless others. Freedom of media was also one of the promises the party made to the electorate and the journalist community in Pakistan before election. In the last two months we have seen that four of the top and senior journalists, who also anchored popular TV shows, were asked to relinquish their TV shows and employments with their respective TV channels. It cannot be a coincidence that all four journalists were critical of the installed regime of PTI and its patrons in deep state, which now doesn’t mean just the military establishment. Many believe these layoffs occurred due to pressure on the owners from what is metaphorically known as the ‘agriculture department’. Certainly, PTI government must have taken a sigh of relief on these removals; that’s perhaps why the PTI government didn’t bother to even notice why those top journalists were fired and their TV shows dumped and didn’t agree to pay advertisement dues to TV channels until these layoffs. Ever since the PTI came to power hardly a week passed when we didn’t see either the prime minister or his closest cabinet members meeting the chairmen or a director of national accountability bureau (NAB). So much so that we saw the Chief Justice of Supreme Court met Imran Khan’s closest ministers just on the eve of a case — against their arch rivals Sharifs. These optics and statements from both PTI ministers, the Chief Justice and the NAB’s senior officials leave little doubt about collusiveness between these institutions and the PTI government. Besides, the way in which the leader of opposition in the National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, was arrested tells it all; he was summoned to appear for the alleged corruption in the SaafPani case but arrested in the Aashiana case. While that too must be flimsy grounds to keep him arrested, the NAB re-arrested him again in the Ramzan Sugar Mill case the very last day of his previous remand. Shehbaz’s son Hamza has also been summoned by NAB for a case of assets beyond means. It seems like the father, Khadime Ala, and the son will make a history not because they both are leaders of opposition, one in national assembly the other in Punjab assembly, but we will see them both in detention of NAB thanks to this sham accountability drive. Early this month this government so brazenly surrendered against a violent sectarian group that one wonders if the state of Pakistan has really got any writ over those who just browbeat the name of the prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Islam. In a span of seven days the government took repeated U-turns; first, the Prime Minister warned the TLP protesters of state’s power but then government kneeled to the protest leaders. It was said that those who vandalized the property and perpetrated violence over common people will be arrested and tried in the court of law; only next day the government ordered release of all the arrested miscreants. In the last two months we have seen that four of the top and senior journalists, who also anchored popular TV shows, were asked to relinquish their TV shows and employments with their respective TV channels. It cannot be a coincidence that all four journalists were critical of the installed regime of PTI and its patrons in deep state, which now doesn’t mean just the military establishment Few will have doubts that the current PTI government is a pawn, a façade created by a slow coup which had crept stealthily in Pakistan over the last two years, long before elections in July this year. The problem is that this façade is very weak and lacks political grit to stand the challenges in governance, economy, national consensus. Paradoxically, the dilemma Pakistan faces is that if this house of cards, which PTI has shouldered so eagerly, falls — the country will not be handed over to PPP or PML-N but the apprehensions are that we will see another round of direct military rule. As soon as the government has struck the deals with China and the IMF, it’s not however going to be long before we see fascists tendencies within PTI’s leadership leading to actions. Lacking skills in procuring democratic understanding and stability within a federation, running the government and economy through an approach so terribly smells of quackery, and the collective mindset of the party which is more tuned to agitation than cultivating good governance—will make us see a failing and a jittery government. This will only perpetuate instability and no hope for economic growth and development. By the end of this regime, we must not be surprised if we are informed that while Bangladesh had already surpassed us in economic development years ago, another country from the SAARC too has left Pakistan behind economic and human development. The writer is a sociologist with interest in history and politics. He tweets @ZulfiRao1 Published in Daily Times, November 15th 2018.