Surprised. Shocked. Stunned. 4th of April 2022 just left everybody nonplussed. The National Assembly was reeling. The opposition was fuming. The government was celebrating. The media was wondering. The people of Pakistan were enquiring. Nobody and nothing had prepared the political pundits for this move. This move’s unpredictability, its alacrity and its associated actions swept the National Assembly carpet from the feet of parliamentarians. The overflowing media gallery was caught shaking their heads. The breaking news went hoarse breaking loudly and repetitively. By the time people had gathered their wits, the National assembly was prorogued and the National assembly was dissolved. If politics is a game of chess, this was a checkmate. In the game of chess when a king is attacked, it is called check. A checkmate occurs when a king is placed in check and has no other moves to escape. When a checkmate happens, the game ends immediately, and the player who delivered the checkmate wins. They say in chess, checkmating your opponent should be your top priority since this will ensure your victory even if you have less material or if you have had a worse position throughout the game. It seems that the happening on 4th April was also a chess move. Whether it will lead to eventual victory despite the Supreme Court striking it down, remains to be seen.Let us see what are the moves and counter moves that government and opposition have played in this game of political chess: 1. The Super Powers discomfort- The super power becomes a super power by finding a “powerless” regional target that can be easily used as a base for its agenda in the region. In Central America where US has been involved in nearly 25 regime changes it targets weaker countries like Guatemala, Panama, Chile, Venezuela etc. In Middle East it used to be Iraq. Iraq rebelled and had to be tamed through a war. In South Asia it shifted between Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why even a pliable dictatorship like Musharraf’s or moldable convicts like Sharifs will be preferable to a rebellious Imran Khan. Starting with not bothering to call him to warn him, to sending CIA to demand bases, to asking him not to go on Russian visit, it has been a string of “disobediences” by the lesser power. The punishment had to come in a blatant threat given to Pakistan’s ambassador conveying “either remove him by the vote of no confidence or Pakistan will face consequences”. 2. The local dissidents in play- In this game of chess the powerful need putty pawns. A pawn is the most numerous and the weakest piece in the game of chess. These pawns are the network of hitmen they have within the local system. From Election Commission to Judiciary, from media houses to anchors, from civil society “respectables” to corporate savvy professionals, they are these ” social back bones” whose backs are bent by big power “favours ” to further their designed plan and narrative. In the present turmoil these players are busy trying to paint the picture their masters have tasked them to. 3. The parliament loot sale- Money remains the biggest, easiest, and the most obvious bait for politicians. Having favoured corruptible politicians in the past, the super power finds it convenient to grease the palm of the cash addicted parliamentarians of these weak countries. A few billions, especially in rupees, are peanuts to buy eager monkeys. Horse trading in parliament houses is old and established in Pakistan. The payouts are huge and the risks small. Thus in the super power meeting particular reference was made to vote of no-confidence as that was the easiest, democratic, constitutional way of dislodging via buy offs. As mentioned earlier America has been involved in 72 regime changes in the world and vote of no-confidence is a tested tried “democratic” move on the political chess board. Pakistan is going to celebrate 75 years of its independence this year. We all know that despite being out of the British rule, we have not really been able to be truly independent. While we do blame foreign forces, we must look within and see why we have not been able to be defiant and sustain like some countries in our neighborhood like Iran, India and China. We must as citizens collectively decide to fight not just foreign powers but their pawns within our system to develop strong political immunity against such hybrid invasions by the following: 1 Judicial enquiry on regime change conspiracy- The Supreme court must be requested for an enquiry and its findings implementation must be insisted upon by the masses. The memogate enquiry proved collusion of our political leaders with US through our own American ambassador. Yet nothing happened. That is where we have gone wrong. This does not only involve political will, it involves public will to fight the black holes within and outside the country. Iran or other countries have withstood the American pressure because they have the backing of their public with them. Thus to rid the country from this constant policy independence erosion a mass resolve is mandatory. 2 A re-election that is transparent and above board- One of the problems has been the electoral process that allows only the rich and the rigging experts to prevail. That is why severe resistance was presented when electronic voting was proposed. That is why the opposition is desperate to come into power to as quoted by Maryam Nawaz” bring back the old Pakistan”. The old Pakistan is the Pakistan where for a new, clean yet deserving person to enter the parliament is almost impossible. For the caretaker government, it is imperative to ensure a system that makes the cleaner entries possible or unfortunately we may see Pakistan follow the Afghanistan fate. 3 A government that is stable and professional- No prime minister has completed his or her term. This government is on the same path. This instability is due to the fight between those who have reigned on the status quo of subservience to their self-interests and foreign interest and those few who want to be independent. The “easy buy out – buy a government” packages have to be removed for ever if the country and economy have to become sustainably stable. These are surely historic moments. No prime minister has ever sacrificed his own government to defy the system. PM and parliamentarians are stuck to their seats till they are either taken away or finish their tenure. For nations, such moments are defining moments. They can either become a mob clamouring for their own interests or become a nation by putting national interests above all-a choice between just being a pawn or a king who can checkmate the most difficult of adversaries and adversities. The writer is a columnist, consultant, coach, and an analyst and can be reached at andleeb.abbas1@gmail,com. She tweets at @AndleebAbbas.