The ‘Game of Thrones’ continues. Let’s see what happens, as the Directors/Producers of the game has chosen a new plot for the new season
By Nasir Aijaz
Game of Thrones – Yes, but this is not about the popular 73-episode American fantasy drama television series based on fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin, first of which was Game of Thrones. This is about the Game of Thrones being played in Pakistan. The TV series had 73 episodes and it ended in eight seasons from 2011 to 2019 but in my country this game is going on for seven and half a decades since its inception and has innumerable seasons and many more to come.
Here I am going to review the ongoing season of Pakistan’s Game of Thrones that started from April 10, 2022 when Cricketer-turned politician and chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan was dethroned through mid-night ‘no trust’ vote in the parliament. In fact the new season of Pakistan-style Game of Thrones kick-started with the forced climax of the previous season of ousting the then premier Nawaz Sharif (President of his own faction of Pakistan Muslim League) through a judicial coup, installing one of his party-men as premier and then bringing Imran Khan to power through election with ‘engineered results’.
The Directors/Producers of the Game of Thrones had chosen a new plot for the new season. This time they dethroned Imran Khan, installed Shehbaz Sharif, brother of former premier Nawaz Sharif in his place with the support of about a dozen other parliamentary parties, but retained Arif Alvi, a dentist by profession and Imran Khan’s loyal party-man, as President of the state besides continuing his party’s (PTI) governments in two provinces – Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw, to keep the new premier Shehbaz Sharif under constant pressure.
Imran Khan, being an immature politician but highly ambitious one, first blamed the USA for ousting him but later took a U-turn as usual and turning his guns to the Establishment (Composed of high civil and military bureaucracy and known as invisible real rulers of country that installs and ousts the civil governments as per changed plans and policies).
When the Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa retired from his extended tenure last year, Imran Khan directly blamed him for his dislodging although he himself had given Gen Bajwa 3-year extension. But it happens, as the Establishment keeps dear only its own interests. Sometimes the Establishment seems divided and one faction continues supporting the ousted civil ruler, like Imran Khan, who enjoys some support from some inner circles of Establishment through the judiciary.
In order to regain ‘Throne’, Imran Khan had launched several failed-movements including the march to Islamabad, the capital of country. During such a movement, a firing incident took place and Imran Khan reportedly received some scratches on his leg, and as is being reported, he staged drama of having sustained bullet injuries. God knows better.
Then, the situation took turn and provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw were dissolved. In Punjab, the PTI-loyal Chief Minister lost the seat and PTI-supporter Pakistan Muslim League (Q) got chance to come into power but for very short period as the new caretaker Chief Minister was installed. As per constitution, the fresh elections are to be held within 90 days and all is to be done through the Election Commission of the country but the PTI-loyal President Alvi reportedly announced election dates on his own bypassing the Election Commission. He gave a date of March, but holding the elections so hurriedly was not possible. And, the issue ultimately was raised in Supreme Court of the country which ordered today (March 1, 2023) to hold the polls for two provincial assemblies within 90 days.
Another development that took place was that, after hurling threats of en masse resignations from the national assembly by Imran Khan, some 60 plus PTI members of National Assembly tendered resignations in two installments which were accepted by the Speaker, but soon the PTI started hue and cry and challenged the acceptance of resignations in the court.
Imran Khan, who is facing the corruption cases, including foreign funding case, and selling of precious foreign gifts, has sought pre-arrest bail from the court and is sitting at his palace but has launched ‘Jail Bharo’ Movement (courting the arrests) and ordered his party men to court the arrests. According to media reports, he his call has received cool response, as very few party workers could be seen surrendering to the police for arrest.
Amidst ongoing ‘Game of Thrones,’ the poor masses are the worst sufferers as the coalition rulers, who came into power on the promise of reducing the inflation and improving the economic conditions, almost doubled the inflation with hike in petroleum, gas and electricity tariffs. The entire country also echoed with threats of being declared as ‘Default’ country. The country seemed in critical situation especially after last year’s devastating monsoon rains and flash floods that had pushed millions of people to abject poverty. The government, with empty-exchequer, has received billions of dollars foreign aid, but at the same time is under the severe pressure of IMF for introducing tough fiscal measures that might cause further inflation.
The poor masses are cursing the present rulers who, despite economic crises, continue to maintain a big army of ministers, advisors and special assistants etc. at federal level and in the provinces who are enjoying the luxuries at the cost of poor masses. Very recently, the so-called democratic government presented a mini-budget in the parliament imposing new taxes and enhancing the existing one to generate additional revenue of PKR170 billion. This is being described as Tax Bomb thrown on people of Pakistan which has multiplied the inflation.
The ‘Game of Thrones’ continues. Let’s see what happens, as the Apex courts of country are issuing verdicts that are seen favorable to Imran Khan and his party.
(This is not a research paper, but an overview of the situation prevailing in the country, that could be termed the consequence of the ongoing Pakistani style ‘Game of Thrones’)
Nasir Aijaz is a Karachi-based senior journalist, and author of nine books on literature, language and history.
Courtesy: The AsiaN, Seoul, South Korea (Published on March 1, 2023)