For a long time, analysts in Pakistan will discuss the validity of the reference in Supreme Judicial Council against Justice Isa and its timings. Rather than defend himself on merits in the apex body of judicial accountability, the honourable judge has indicated to fight his case in the gallery. His decision is premised on the facts of bad governance and exploitative opportunism by the political parties. Recent events like the indiscreet behaviour of Chairman NAB will add flavour to the anti-establishment campaign with parallels. 

The twin events provide an opportunity to the political opposition to take the game to the next level. They have waited out the Holy Month of Ramzan to choke Islamabad with royal rumble. A lot will depend on their ability to muster street power. A group amongst the men in black is already gearing to begin a movement aka Chaudary style. This could be the beginning of the ‘Chaos Theory’ so often referred by Asif Ali Zardari. All attempts will be made to lay siege on Islamabad with multiple objectives. 

Since accountability began when PMLN was firmly in control of the federal government and PPPP ruled unchallenged in Sindh, the combined opposition feels that the judiciary could not have acted alone or; without the firm support of the army. That in 2018, PTI emerged as the single largest party forming the federal and two provincial governments suits allegations about a selected and not elected prime minister. They reckon they have punching bags and justifications. 

With the groundwork already laid, the ‘oligarchies spent by corruption’ sees an opportunity to fight back the anti-corruption drive that began with Panama Papers. The most imminent phase of destabilisation will be between the forces of corruption disguised within political parties and the troika of Imran Khan, Judiciary and the Army. Such a broad based assault against such prized assets is certainly music to external ears; an ideal opportunity to carve the nadir of instability curves! 

While PPPP still controls Sindh, PMLN retrograde left a series of booby traps, obstacles and nuisance minefields that have stalled the present government. This puts the government in negative perspective. The imbalances have led to nearly 26% devaluation, slowing down of the national economy and limitations in governance. Hence, the next series of the allegations; that the government is incompetent and survives only because it is supported by the judiciary and powerful army! They hope their propaganda on bad governance will win ‘hearts and minds’ and provide synergy to their movement. In their contention, all three have to be made accountable to their version of the ‘misrule of law’. The underlying reason is that neither can afford reopening of Hudaibya or confiscation of unprecedented money laundering fortunes.  

According to Raoof Hassan, “This is the tragic story of two family oligarchies: the leaders of both going by fake identities. One refuses to own up to her husband and the other to his father. A quintessential reflection of Pakistan’s politics: deceptive and distorted. Nation reaps the fruits of such crass indulgences”. Will the nation reap the bitter fruits of such indulgences is a question that shall have an answer by the end of this year. By then either the opposition would have undergone a self-consummation cycle or the government proved its mettle. The opposition or the government may hinge hopes on the next chief but as repeatedly proved, institutional memory always prevails. 

Politics makes strange bedfellows is an adage reflected both in the opposition and the ruling regime. All will coalesce to hypothetically deal a telling blow. From PMLN to PPPP, from sub nationalist parties to Mulana Fazal ur Rehman, from foreign funded PTM to Desi Liberals and the cash starved media; each will come with its own bag of tricks. Finally, do not ignore the cuckoos nestled in corridors of power. Their role could be lethal. 

This riposte is in the process of grouping and regrouping. Anyone who is anti-judiciary, anti PTI or anti-military is most welcome to join. The stratagem is three dimensional. Oligarchs know that money will create dents in judiciary, palace intrigues with artfully placed political cuckoos and entrenched babus will paralyse governance. The planning needs a very hostile media. In the past years, a very craft media czar has laid eggs in ever popular TV channel for its cuckoos to hatch. Intriguingly, he also controls the official media. The expected media blitz will be joined by some elements of the ruling group. In their reckoning, this shaping of the environment would be too tempting to resist by international actors.  With a complicated international environment, the stage would be set to break the nexus of Imran Khan-Judiciary and Military. 

The psychology of incompetence propels small but smart people to high places. Chinks in armour and opportunism overrule preference for professional competence. This is what is getting at Chairman NAB through a particular TV channel in cahoots with opposition parties and the nestled cuckoo in garb of a media czar. At every stage of the Supreme Judicial Council proceedings against the protector of Hudaibya Case, the media will demand a similar treatment of Chairman NAB. If he resigns or is impeached, selection of the next will become time consuming impossibility. Accountability would have been defanged. 

There will be three logical conclusions. 

First, Hudaibya remains out of bounds, secondly anti money laundering and accountability cases suffer and thirdly a combined street movement led by the Maulana flanked by Mariam, Bilawal and lawyers brings the government to the knees and an end to a nexus they consider evil. A similar tester in Waziristan ended firing at a military check post. Let us see what this one will do. 

Just to recap, Hudaibya is the complicated knot that must be untied. President Musharraf despite his unchecked power closed it. Admiral Fasih Bokhari lost support of President Zardari and the powerful military chief. In early 2013, an attempt was made in Karachi to abduct his daughter. A media campaign was initiated against him. Finally he resigned. Justice Isa brushed aside the Panama Commission recommendations on Hudaibya. Ishaq Dar was allowed to flee Pakistan so that Hudaibya reference cannot be opened against him. 

It seems that the military has read the situation and made its contingency plans. It has already announced to forego any increase in defence budget. Given the devaluation, the share in terms of GDP of the previous financial year will now be less than 3% of GDP. This will deflate PTM/ Desi liberal propaganda against a military juggernaut consuming national resources. It will continue to act within its constitutional role and as empowered by National Action Plan. 

The next test will be Hudaibya. How will Supreme Judicial Council deal with the reference and how it will reopen Hudaibya is ‘wait and see’.