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Unfinished script of a C-grade film

The recently concluded elections in our neighbourhood had all the trappings of a Cgrade Bollywood film. What now remains to be seen is how the movie would conclude, though it appears that the producer and director have visualized the end.

Unfinished script of a C-grade film

PTI Chief Imran Khan(Photo: Twitter/@ImrankhanPTI)

The recently concluded elections in our neighbourhood had all the trappings of a Cgrade Bollywood film. What now remains to be seen is how the movie would conclude, though it appears that the producer and director have visualized the end. The characters in this forthcoming film have been identified by their profession or traits. The movie begins with a cricketer, who won hearts and minds of the public by his performance on the field, honest image, philanthropy and promises of creating a welfare state (Medina).

His larger-than-life persona, in a country reeking of poverty and deep in debt, made him the most popular leader in decades. The cricketer decides to join politics and rises to become the head of government, along the way challenging the right of nations to exploit his country, angering a few. His party symbol, a cricket bat, resonates within the cricket crazy nation, whose populace consider him a demi-God. Soon public adulation and black magic makes him believe that he is invincible. As the feeling settles in, he begins insulting his opponents and questioning the power and control of mafia bosses, with whose backing he had climbed the ladder.

The mafia leadership, sensing a challenge to their authority from their own puppy, start planning to remove him in favour of a more subservient head of state. The plan is soon put into motion. Mafia gang leaders, in conjunction with the cricketer’s opponents and a corrupt system, manage to sideline him but soon realize that overriding his power of oratory and support from the masses is not easy.

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The cricketer publicly challenges the mafia, expecting them to back down. Every time the mafia tries to arrest him, his fans come to his aid, armed with weapons, threatening violence. They offer him exile, but the cricketer refuses, pushing them against the wall. Ultimately, the mafia leadership joins hands with a corrupt judiciary to ensure that the popular cricketer is thrown behind bars in a collection of bizarre cases from which immediate relief is difficult. It is at this stage that the next phase begins.

Elections are now planned in this banana republic and the fear which dominates the mafia leadership is that if the cricketer still wins, he would come after them in revenge, curtailing their corruption and power. The mafia and its allies make an elaborate plan intending to sideline him and select an individual whom they can manipulate. Employing strong arm tactics, with acceptance from a major global power, known to interfere in other states with impunity, the cricketer is sentenced to multiple terms on charges which even third-rate courts would never accept, his fans arrested and his political party broken up. To confuse voters, the cricketer’s symbol, the bat, is blocked.

All this is done hurriedly and just prior to elections. The judiciary, fearful of the mafia leadership, endorses these actions. However, the saga does not end here. The fans, who remained loyal all through, respond to the call of the jailed cricketer and upset the carefully crafted plans of the all-powerful mafia. They vote in unprecedented numbers for those whom the cricketer nominates, displaying their support for his team and anger against the mafia and its chosen proteges. As results begin to trickle in, the mafia is left dumbfounded when it realizes that all their plans have gone astray.

It has to find a solution. Results are delayed and manipulation commences. The intent is to reduce the cricketer’s elected representatives to a manageable number, such that no party wins a majority and controls remain with the mafia. Elected representatives of the cricketer are compelled, by threat and bribery, to jump ship and join the chosen one. His political party is not permitted to recreate itself. Despite being behind bars, the popular cricketer remains a thorn in the mafia’s side. His Artificial Intelligence-crafted speeches indicate that he is aware of the manipulation and is willing to challenge the mafia leadership. Elected members of his team remain hesitant of jumping ship, fearing the wrath of the cricketer’s fans. Confusion prevails.

The mafia bosses hint that the only option left is for all others to join their nominated protégé or else the mafia may be forced to take control. Haggling for sharing the spoils of victory is currently in process, closely monitored by the mafia. The mafia leadership cannot allow its carefully crafted plans to fail. The movie cannot move towards the end until the future of the cricketer is determined. For the moment, he is lodged in jail.

Releasing him without preconditions would be taking a huge risk as he could incite the masses into fresh violence. Leaving him locked up is difficult as cases against him have little merit. The best option is to offer him a safe passage to a country of his choice, at least for some time. The cricketer too faces a dilemma. If he accepts and departs, he would lose support of his fans, as they would consider him a coward, like his predecessor. If he rejects, the corrupt judiciary may ensure he remains incarcerated.

Languishing in jail is not a long-term solution. A via media would have to be determined for which negotiations are being held. It is now time to link this story to reality. This is where Pakistan stands now. Imran Khan’s PTI is no longer a political party. As per Pakistan norms, the independents backed by the PTI can either sit as independents, join an existing political party or create their own, an act which would not be easily allowed.

The army chief, who determines who occupies the PM’s chair mentioned, “Pakistan’s diverse polity and pluralism will be well-represented by a unified government of all democratic forces imbibed with national purpose.” This was message enough for political parties to join hands with Nawaz Sharief, to form the next government. While the director has written the conclusion, it is far from being filmed as all pieces have yet to fall in place. It will be some time before the audience can determine whether this movie, created by the Pakistani mafia, would be a box office success or flop.

(The writer is a retired Major-General of the Indian Army)

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