Following developments in Pakistan, a quote from Henry Kissinger says it all, “America is strong for two reasons. They search for traitors in their country and kill them. And they search for traitors in other countries and use them.” We have an abundant supply of such “For Sale” material willing to sell their Motherland. It blows your mind trying to accept that it takes less than 15 million dollars to topple a duly elected Government of 220 million people. For international agencies, it is chump change. Pentagon spends more on the supply of toilets to its soldiers! Opposition’s path may be within the law but it is poison for integrity, morality and faith in corrupt democratic institutions. All it takes is 20 to 30 saleable seats. A vast majority of the nation is outraged at this loot sale. They rallied around PM IK’s call on March 27 by showing up in numbers never seen before in a public gathering. PDM’s attempt to counter this event blew up in their faces and exposed their inability to motivate their base or pull crowds. This was reinforced by the just concluded KP local bodies’ election results. One needs to understand what is really going on. NCV has drawn sharp lines between the elite, the beneficiaries of the existing system and the popular will of the common man. The divide has never been so deep. An extremely fragile economy and a tug of war in the corridors of power is a perfect recipe for disaster. The opposition’s thrust has the backing of our traditional foreign masters, extremely annoyed with the streaks of independence shown by PM IK. They want the status quo back. Compromised and subservient leaders suit them. They prefer controllable leaders who have billions stashed away under their jurisdictions. Nawaz Sharif is their choice. He presents expensive gifts and reads from slips in the White House. Infamous operatives like Hussain Haqqani are the go-betweens. He is also blue-eyed of Zardari. He played a role in bringing all parties closer. They only ask “how high” when ordered to jump. Let us see how this 13-party cocktail performs. The fear factor of accountability that bonded them will not exist anymore. What’s next? Fiefdoms will be created in Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan. Center will be overrun by many cooks seeking their pound of flesh. An extremely fragile economy and a tug of war in the corridors of power is a perfect recipe for disaster. It doesn’t bode well for the country. The affairs of state will be remotely conducted from Avonfield Apartments! Shahbaz Sharif is smarting to wear his refitted “achkan”. Try visualizing Maulana Fazal as the President of Pakistan; Bilawal as your Foreign Minister and Maryam Nawaz as Interior Minister! Do they all stand behind Nawaz Sharif’s outburst in Gujranwala, Quetta, and Peshawar? It would be interesting to see how the Establishment deals with this power structure. The PTI’s political team has a lot to answer for too. With every resource available to the government, it should have been aware of the breaches within its ranks and amongst its allies. Their overconfidence and arrogance embedded in their governing style have caused this harsh and painful experience. Countering the moves of master manipulator Zardari, backed by unlimited resources, required a powerful political counter thrust. Unfortunately, the PTI has frittered its political teeth and seriously lacked depth in its political operators. Dealing with friends and foes in this messed-up parliamentary system requires a completely different set of rules. It was ignored because the going was good. “A stitch in time saves nine,” comes to mind watching the scramble by PTI leaders in the last few weeks. It should have happened many months ago. The PTI’s lame-duck operators badly fumbled the ball. The PTI conducted an all-out effort on media/social media successfully winning the hearts and minds of the common man. They failed in the real battle being conducted behind closed doors. The thick-skinned politicos manning the parliament dance to a totally different tune! PM IK has a serious need to reflect on where he went wrong. As a cricketing hero, he attracted adulation and fans. As a leader in power, he attracted sycophants and “chamchas” who only blossom in the shadows of power. Such “yes men” mouth words that the leader wants to hear. It alienates genuine supporters. In his efforts at being even-handed, he turned against his erstwhile supporters like Aleem Khan and Jahangir Tareen. Removing them from corridors of power was punishment enough, why go the extra mile to humiliate them? CM Buzdar frittered away PTI’s goodwill in Punjab by his misgovernance. The corruption that PM IK wanted to root out grew by leaps and bounds under him. Some of Buzdar’s key allies have fled the country. His blinkered approach failed to breach the PML (N) bastion. Instead, it led to serious hemorrhaging of PTI parliamentarians. Some bought outright; many alienated for being denied access to their leader; making them bitter and vulnerable to approaches by the Opposition. The PTI may lose this round but the war is not over. In the coming days, a new round will begin. On one side will be PM IK cleansed from the liabilities of a disappointed electorate outraged by the present loot sale. On the other side will be this disjointed corrupt crowd wanting to revive their plundering ways. Even if PM IK is voted out, he has accumulated enough goodwill to generate a serious majority. He needs to seek out a team that will actually deliver. The writer is the director of CERF, a non-profit, charitable organisation in Canada.