It is a woeful day for democracy, accountability and rule of law in the history of our country. A Karachi based, top ranking leader from the ruling party has publicly threatened those implementing orders of the Supreme Court on accountability, with dire consequences. By implication, these threats are directed at the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the Apex Court to investigate allegations against the Prime Minister and his family for money laundering and corruption. This fiery and ‘most loyal’ PML-N politician pointed his finger directly at members of the investigation team, including those belonging to two of our most respected and reliable institutions, threatening them and their families with retribution and reminding them that they were on ‘haazir’ service now, but would retire one day.

Just a few days ago, the Supreme Court threw out a petition containing objections against some members of the JIT. The case was filed by a key member of the ruling family, who is also one of the central figures required to appear before the investigation team. This young man, who resides abroad, but is currently on a visit to Pakistan, was rapped on the knuckles by the court for failing to cooperate with the JIT and warned of the serious consequences. We then saw him on television as he emerged from the JIT venue and noted that his conversation with the media and body language was indicative that perhaps all had not gone well during questioning.

Indicators that apprehensions are on the rise within PML-N ranks are evident in the ratcheting up of threatening and angry rhetoric by party mouthpieces, who occupy the rostrum outside the Supreme Court. The practice provided the public with much entertainment during the Panama Case hearings and continues to do so, as the PML-N petition filed against Imran Khan, is heard by the august court. One of these spokespersons, who is also the respondent in the ongoing case, recently went berserk declaring that the PTI Chairman would be put behind bars and his party banned. The gentleman perhaps lost sight of the fact that he represented a political force that claimed to have fought for democratic norms – something that he was himself hell bent on destroying by threatening to ban a legitimate political party, which was also running a provincial government. By making this statement, the gentleman only reinforced the notion that PTI was in fact considered within PML-N circles, as the only real opposition. The current spate of threats and drum beating however, comes as no surprise for political historians, who maintain that this is a signature trait of the party in power. It is only a short time ago (as history goes), when we all witnessed the attack on the Supreme Court by none other than activists and parliamentarians from PML-N.

The developing situation makes one wonder as to what will Pakistan’s political chess board be like, if things do not go well for the Sharif family? Most political pundits (including those with PML-N leanings) are of the view that it would be foolishly unwise and even unpatriotic to retaliate if this happens, making it imperative for saner voices within the party to play their role. We must also not ignore the fact that the present crisis touches only one half of the ruling family. This would be a great redeeming factor for the Party’s survival and ensuring that it remains relevant in national politics.

Politics in Pakistan is characterised by dynastic succession, nepotism and corruption. Parties with vote banks have encouraged and nurtured this culture, callously oblivious to the fact that this would not strengthen, but destroy us from within. Regretfully enough, it is the gullible and blindly loyal voter, who too must share the blame for the mess we are in. The nation awaits the findings of the JIT and the final verdict of our learned judges, which may well turn out to be the first dose of the medicine that will in the long run cure us of our malady.