The initial storm has blown over; the government faced criticism from all sections of the populace and finally formed a judicial commission to probe the Panama papers. Now comes the waiting game, as the probe takes it time to investigate the exceptionally wide ToRs, the government can begin diverting the notoriously fickle public attention towards other matters. But that isn’t enough. Diversion won’t bring back the faith lost in the government nor will it win them any praise.

Keeping that fact in mind the PML-N has gone on a charm offensive – not with words but with perhaps what is their strongest suit; construction projects. While that might be common sense in PML-N cadres, the action seems to be motivated by appeasement rather than an actual desire to see the uplift of the country.

The Prime Minister has hit the road with a zeal usually reserved for election season, with the actions usually reserved for election season. Along with public rallies the Prime Minister has started inaugurating pending development projects in different parts of the country, which were approved in the last budget. The parliament in June 2015 had approved development projects under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), but for the better part of a year, these have gathered dust inside government buildings in Islamabad.

Only once the PML-N was in trouble, were these projects trotted out and displayed to the public. The same goes for infrastructural projects under the CPEC. The Prime Minister is scheduled to perform the ground-breaking of Multan-Sukkur, DI Khan-Hakla, Lahore-Multan and Sialkot-Lahore Motorways during the next three weeks ending May 21. All of these projects were conceived and approved long ago, but the Prime Minister gets the nation to construe them as fresh initiatives.

We can criticise the spin the government is putting on these events but we can’t begrudge them trying to protect themselves in a difficult time. That being said, it does seem like “protecting themselves” has become the topmost priority and standard operating procedures are being fiddled with to make them media friendly – an act which leads to inefficiency. The recent direction to OGRA to freeze oil prices is just one example. This offensive is not without its blunders; the Prime Minister launched a gas project in Manshera, but the KP Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani, said the same project was inaugurated for the fourth time: “First it was inaugurated by Nawaz Sharif in 1990, then by PML-N government in 1997, and later by the Peoples’ Party government in 2010”.

The government may be settling into a new role of damage control, but with the Panama saga far from over – a new batch of files is set to be released on May 9 – it cannot let its guard down.