Art Imitates Life: Netflix's "Ingobernable" Might As Well Be Based On Pakistani Politics

Art Imitates Life: Netflix's
The story is set in the backdrop of a third world country where an omnipotent military, in collusion with various powerful mafias, manages elections to thrust onto the nation a charismatic newcomer as the head of the state. The new leader, the viewer comes to know as the story unfolds, is in fact a mere puppet, dancing to the tunes played by the generals and moneyed mafiosi.

Within a couple of years, however, as it happens in the circumstances where strings are pulled by many hands at the same time, the country becomes hard to manage. The country is riven by poverty, a tug of war for power between the string pullers, movements run and organized by rights groups, activists and sympathizers of forcibly disappeared persons, a few rogue foreign operatives running amok in the country, as well as all round governance. The situation becomes so unbearable that the Deep State managing the affairs of the country from behind the screen starts considering the puppet’s replacement.

Déjà vu!

Not exactly.

‘Ingobernable’ is not the story of Pakistan but a fictionalized Mexico. Unfortunately, the Spanish language TV drama – subtitled in English, and rated suitable for mature audiences – has only two seasons available on Netflix. The third season was cancelled for some reason – blame for which cannot be attributed to PEMRA, or the hidden hands controlling the cable operators. They are not powerful enough to control Netflix in the US of A.

As you watch the drama, you get surprised at the similarity of circumstances in the fictionalized country and real Pakistan.

By watching the show, the viewer familiar to the politics of Pakistan is forced to wonder whether the writers of the drama have plagiarized from the events through the history of our country!

Can anybody deny the fact that not a single government has come to power in Pakistan, ever since its inception, without the blessings of what we euphemistically call The Establishment? The world calls it the ‘Deep State.’ Pakistan is being presented as the archetype of the government by the Deep State.

In a security state like ours, the Deep State runs the affairs of the country. Successive governments in Pakistan have been erected and dismantled at will, and leaders eliminated or discredited, according to the vagaries of the Deep State. From the Sindh High Court’s decision on Maulvi Tameezuddin Khan case and Justice Munir’s subsequent infamous reversal of it to Gilani’s dismissal on the basis of contempt of court; and from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s judicial murder, as Justice Safdar Shah put it and later Justice Naseem Hasan Shah confirmed it, to the U-turn of the Supreme Court on the disqualification of Punjab Assembly members in the case of the vote of no-confidence against Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the country possesses a sad history of misgovernance by the Deep State in collaboration with a tamed and corrupted judiciary.

The case of forcibly disappeared people also looks very familiar in Ingoberable. In Pakistan too people disappear mysteriously and then when they finally resurface, they are usually found in the form of tortured or torched corpses. Those unfortunate ones who are allowed to live are often worse off than their dead comrades. The depiction of disappeared people, in the TV show, dumped at secret locations in cages brings to one’s imagination the situation of the unfortunate people under similar circumstances at home.

Unlike in Pakistan, however, in Ingobernable, the conscience of the head of the state, handpicked by the Establishment or the Deep State, suddenly wakes up and he pays for that in the form of his life.

The imposed president of Mexico, Diego Nava Martínez, ends up assassinated when he decides to realize the promises he made during his election campaign, against the wishes of the Deep State.

In our part of the world, the commodity called conscience is not that common among the high and mighty – the judges, politicians and the real power wielders. Therefore, it never wakes up.

The few who possess a conscience, know that the moment they start doing people’ bidding, their days will run out quickly and they will be eliminated like Diego Nava Martínez in Ingobernable.

The concern is not unfounded. The people have seen it happen to at least two Prime Ministers – both Bhuttos -- in our country. Nobody affords to live conscientiously if they covet a powerful position in Pakistan.

Ingobernable, literally meaning ‘Ungovernable’ in Spanish, is indeed the story of Pakistan.

How else can you define an ungovernable state than a country where anarchism reigns supreme?

Where else do the mighty run the affairs of the state extra-constitutionally, dismantling democratically elected governments and installing their incompetent and morally and financially corrupt puppets to power? Where else do the highest court judges reverse their own orders, and make unconstitutional decisions, to appease their own kinsfolk or the powerful, to gain favors, such as extension, promotion, or a piece of land, in a matter of days? In which constitutionally run country do the President, governors and chief ministers flout the Constitution at will, with impunity, and with the full backing of ranking members of the judiciary?

In which democracy do the generals subvert the Constitution and then brag about it in front of journalists?

History is replete with examples of whole civilizations getting wiped off the surface of the planet after they became Ingobernable. Doom seems near when one witnesses a small, poor and weak country like Pakistan plunge deeper and deeper into chaos and anarchy.

Unfortunately, those with the capability to stop this downward spiral are too busy amassing wealth and perpetuating their stranglehold on power, and seem least concerned about the situation. That is what is most worrying.

The writer is an independent political observer based in the USA.