Ever since the start of political hullabaloo at the federal metropolis, wagging tongues and thoughtful brains both in and out of parliament have been giving oblique and overt references to the khakis reining in the dual shows at Islamabad. Nobody had the nerve to unfold the furls of their obliquity – so they with utmost caution opened up the mouths to utter with utmost deference but begrudgingly ‘script writers’. Later, Javed Hashmi, uber-obsessed with the idea of being honest, strove to spill the beans diffusing huge amazement around.

The duo allegedly enjoying pat of the khakis also added spice to the stew while alluding to indirect hints: umpire’s fingers, wrapping up the entire political set-up by 31st of August, sacrifice before the ceremonial sacrificial day.

In the end, ISPR spokesperson, feeling heavy strikes of the deafening noises around of being the khakis behind the shows, had to affirm that army is not linked to the ongoing political activity. This press release by ISPR was arranged to announce the arrest of the brutes who had attacked Malala Yousafzai, but interestingly and understandably a notable English daily had the headline, “Army not meddling in politics”. He reiterated the stance of the army chief exhibited on Yaum-i-Shauhada on April 30, which reads: “Armed Forces of Pakistan believe in the continuation of democracy and upholding of Constitution and Law. This is the only way the country can make its way into the ranks of developed countries.”

The orgy of oblique references still continues to emerge even after the open commitment of the army to stand by democracy. Why are aspersions being cast? Why do whispers not stop? Maybe, we want to believe. The nation wants to see through clearly what is happening; and when it would end. Will it ever end?

These queries, nay misgivings, have been resonating in Pakistan since the start of this year. Since the start, we have been listening about civil-military tension mounting up every other day. Army, no doubt, has a history of playing the strums of politics.

The khakis never intervened in the mega corruption scams of former federal government of PPP, but when it comes to the domains of foreign and security policies, the khakis deem their sole privilege to control them. This is here the Nawaz government erred as opposed to the Zardari-led regime. Zardari never bothered when the then ambassador to the US, Hussein Haqqani, was embroiled in the memogate scandal; when the Raymond Davis was made to flee; when the Kerry-Lugar Bill was scrapped; when the PM Gilani was ousted in connivance with the apex court as he had gone on a vilification campaign against the army and called it a ‘state within a state’.

But Nawaz wants dominance - dominance of Islamabad over Rawalpindi. And to fix this civil-military imbalance, he trespasses his demarcated lines and lands in the forbidden areas. His dominance-seeking stiff stance on certain issues made him inconspicuous in the eyes of the army. The postures – his presence on the swearing in ceremony of the Indian PM, Mr. Modi, being ultra ambitious for trade with India overlooking core issues, high-handed approach to Musharraf’s trial, the reluctance to go into war with TTP only to establish civilian say, appointing an ambassador who has anti-establishment outlook, setting a private TV channel and his ministers for a broadside on the army – earned for him the ire of the military-led establishment.

These efforts to gain supremacy started the melodrama at Islamabad. Had the PPP-led government restored judges back in 2009 before the long march, the army would not have jumped into to settle the issue. Had the current federal government taken steps for the judicial probe into the much trumpeted four constituencies, the situation would not have gained such a huge anti-government momentum. The killing of PAT workers at Model Town added fuel to the fire.

As for the gossip of military take-over, that seems almost impossible in the present scenario. Certain factors have developed which may rigorously impede the way to coup. The judiciary, which has been validating every martial law, is least ready for that. The judicial verdicts against martial laws do not suffice to block the way to coups. In the Asma Jilani case of 1972, the Supreme Court gave verdict against the imposition of military rule, and termed it incapable of being validated; but the same court validated the coup in 1977.

The reality is that the present judiciary has itself been a part of the strenuous political effort against Musharraf’s rule, and it won this battle. This struggle has become an institutional and psychological part of the present judiciary’s history. Another factor adding feather to the history is the increasing judicial dissent against a coup. In 2007, 43 judges refused to take oath as PCO judges.

The restive land of Afghanistan has also provided suitable space to the last two coups in Pakistan- Zia’s in the backdrop of the Russian invasion on Afghanistan, and then Musharraf’s need on the heels of 9/11 enigma. But now the US is least willing to put its weight behind Rawalpindi.

Notwithstanding these emerging realities, don’t think that the army has receded. Hark! It is still at the driving seat. It still rules the roost. It knows how to rein in, not letting its grip loose on key foreign and security issues.

Hard days wait ahead for the Nawaz league. The army still has many tricks in its book. Even if Nawaz Sharif survives, the FIR with anti-terrorism clause plus the rigging issues will keep giving him sleepless nights.

What is the way out? All the political parties must take a firm stand and not slip into the khakis’ lap even in the starkest of differences with one another. The behaviour of the federal government must satisfy the whims and demands of the rival parties. But this still sounds like a dream. Let’s come back to terra firma. The reality stands, that the ever-powerful khakis still call the shots.

 The writer is a historian and teacher.