A multiplayer video game was leaked online a couple of days ago. While it in itself was a video clip, it depicted the larger game being played at large in the politically largest province of Pakistan.

The video depicts Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leaders Pervaiz Elahi and Tariq Cheema – the Punjab Assembly Speaker and Federal Minister for Housing and Works, respectively – asking a certain Mr Jehangir Tareen to ‘control’ Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar.

‘A certain Mr’ here is meant to be as much an acerbic jibe as it is a filler for the designation for Tareen – which one really isn’t sure of.

Now, there should be nothing surprising about the fact that the PML-Q leadership would want Chaudhry Sarwar – and others from the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf machinery on paper ruling Punjab – to be controlled. And similarly, there isn’t anything particularly jolting about the fact that they would go and ask Tareen to rein in the targets of their complaints.

The significance of this video lies only in its capturing on record of something that has been well known since Tareen memes thronged the web in the post-election independent hunting days.

That Jehangir Tareen, as PTI’s whatsoever he is – maybe he should be delegated as the Supreme Leader as well, to facilitate one and all – is practically running Punjab is open enough to not even fall within the realm of an honorary secret.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has about as much control over deciding matters for Punjab as Prime Minister Imran Khan has over security and diplomacy.

Even so, the fact that that there is now a video spilling out all of this – akin to an hypothetical footage where the Chief of You Know What is being asked to ‘control’ PM Khan – means that the ruling PTI would have to go through the superfluous, albeit now mandatory, exercise of explaining what is going on between Elahi, Cheema and Tareen at the former’s residence.

That exercise, interestingly, has been spearheaded by the target of the JKT + CTRL command. And the riposte from Sarwar has come in a package as glittering as to include stinging phrases like “centre of power” and “key coalition partner” meant to denote CM Buzdar and the PML-Q respectively.

Further clarifications have come from Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and indeed Pervaiz Elahi himself. After all, the health, wealth and wisdom of the coalition are in the interest of everyone acting, directing, writing and producing that leaked video.

The more pertinent question here is for Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is fast approaching that magic 100 day mark, by which time he had promised to transform Pakistan to a paradise par excellence, where the only thing wrong would be the cureless scepticism of those simply allergic to Naya Pakistan.

Considering that selling out to Saudi Arabia and in turn alienating Turkey – in addition to list of other states – is out of his control. Also the fact that economic crisis that he is visibly clueless in addressing wasn’t brought about by his party’s policies. And similarly the reality that the government isn’t entirely self-sufficient in dealing with Islamist thugs like the TLP.

Now that the government is plain incapable of dealing with the real major issues targeting the state, at least within the 100 days that PM Khan had himself earmarked, what should the cynics of Naya Pakistan base their assessment of the first three months of the PTI rule?

Accountability. And given that the only kind of accountability that PM Khan seems to be aware of is one that involves financial misappropriation, the continued control that Jehangir Tareen – indicted by the Supreme Court as an offender identical to Khan’s mortal enemy Nawaz Sharif – exercises over the PTI, and in turn the Punjab government, it is quite evident that the premier relentlessly continues to fail in his anti-corruption accountability drive as well.

If we can’t expect the government to bring forth growth ideas for the economy – or to shape a progressive foreign policy – or to enforce law against those who break it – or to protect the religious minorities and other marginalised communities – or to live up to its own words of safeguarding the write of the state – or indeed to deal with its own claims of financial accountability being reduced to shambles – what then should we expect from the incumbent government?


The writer is a Lahore-based journalist.