Pen, as the buzz goes in Islamabad, is mightier than the sword. Some might say a ‘hot mic’ or an informant is mightier than established hierarchies. The prize is up for grabs. It could go to Nawaz, to Imran or the Boys could snatch it from under their noses. After all, if history has taught us one thing, it is that Boys get what Boys want (these are also the lyrics of an upcoming song, commissioned by the Donald Trump Campaign).

Karachi was a tough decision to take. Boys had to twist a few arms, raze down a few sector offices and provide a viable alternative (even if it didn’t work out as planned) for the mice fleeing a sinking ship. On the International front, Boys have Nawaz by the ‘you know what’ and have check-mated his every move on the India front. Pathankot? Uri? Modi in Lahore? They had employed Game Theory to thwart any possible moves made by Nawaz government on India. Look where we are today? The US is about to wash her hands off us, China is hesitant, Russia is playing both sides, the ‘Ummah’ card is getting defunct, Bangladesh had had enough of us, Afghanistan is blocking our trucks and Maldives is our only friend left in the region.

There is good news and bad news. The good news is that we have hit rock bottom and the only way is up. The bad news is that there are no stairs in this black hole and we have to crawl our way up. But the past is not necessarily the future and if you squint enough, there is probably some light at the end of this tunnel. There is CPEC, consolidation of democratic credentials post-2018 and seamless changes in the top brass. Or y’know, the Boys are going to do it their way. There is, of course, a straightforward way to separate fact from fiction. We can either do it or otherwise. We should not discount the fact that Nawaz was here before Raheel, or Imran or Bilawal. If he can wriggle his way out of a dictator’s lap, a failed marriage with the establishment and the Attock Jail, Panama is not as big a hurdle. He has outlasted Zia, GIK, Farooq Leghari, Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf and the Chauhdrys of Gujrat. He is of course, the inaugurator-in-chief.

Who could it be? Khawaja Asif has spoken against the boys before, Pervaiz Rasheed has a personal axe to grind, Maryam has an eye set on the future, Tariq Fatemi has been trying to flex his muscles for ages, Rizwan is on his way out so could easily tip the table on his way out, Nisar is frequently found at the wrong end of a smoking gun, Nawaz himself is prone to making blunders and we know what the IB is capable of, as the disgraced Midnight Jackals might tell you. Of course, anything that sounds that good is unlikely to be true, especially if you’re a civilian. The Boys have made a few noises, about caring more about the source than the news, but we know what dish is under the sauce (Hint: Its pasta).

Karachi is bleeding slowly, Balochistan has been occupied by the Boys since ages, Quetta is no longer the idyllic, leafy Cantonment town rebuilt after the Earthquake of 1935, Punjab is still off-limits and KP continues to be targeted at the miscreants’ will. CPEC was supposed to have a Western route but like every Western promise, it has been abandoned in plain sight. Imran is threatening to ‘Occupy’ Islamabad while Nawaz can’t move his sugar mills or finish the Orange Line Project. The Chief in Islamabad is not in the mood to accommodate Nawaz. Ah, the good old Iftikhar Chaudhry. Shehbaz is trippy because the Chief in Lahore prefers green over granite.

On the other side of the fence, Kashmir is like a hot potato for Modi, he can’t swallow it, and he can’t throw it out. Congress is breathing down his neck and Kejriwal is upping the ante in Punjab. He know what our Boys are capable of, and post-Uri, he has maintained the ‘Strategic Defence’ line. But for how long? If the boys don’t act on course correction, it might be too late. How late is too late? It turns out that Sword is, in fact, mightier than the pen. Oh and you can’t put a sword on the Exit Control List (ECL), just ask Musharraf, or the Boys.