The Supreme Court’s (SC) verdict on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line in Peshawar offers up a lifeline for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. The SC has barred the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from continuing its investigation in the irregularities surrounding the project and has instead asked for details of the undertaking from the KP government.

The government should not congratulate itself just yet however – this has in no way exonerated the provincial government from its failure to complete the project, nor has it given a clean-chit on the allegations of financial irregularities and potential corruption. But since the FIA will no longer be investigating the case, members of the ruling party that can be directly identified as those responsible for this glaring failure might just be off the hook – for now.

As far as the SC’s decision to bar the FIA from conducting investigation is concerned, it is inexplicable why this order was issued. Admittedly, the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) judgement to investigate irregularities might have been a bit of an overreach, considering that the initial petition which led to this judgement concerned work outside the plaintiff’s house, and was not posing questions of whether there were unscrupulous practices that were leading to delays in completion.

But beyond the petition, numerous independent and government functionaries, including the Asian Development Bank, have identified mismanagement and financial irregularities as the major reasons for this unplanned delay. Perhaps the SC has indicated with its decision that it is personally taking over the reins in investigating this case. But this does not explain why the FIA would be barred from conducting its own inquiry to determine whether funds allocated for the project ended up lining the pockets of government functionaries.

On its part, the ruling party’s complete silence in both the BRT and Malam Jabba cases is only evidence of its predisposition to only pay lip service to the principle stance of accountability for all. In reality, it is only the opposition politicians that have seen investigations of financial irregularities lead to judicial proceedings against them.

Members and voters of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) must raise their voice against these duplicitous standards. After all, most ruling party politicians have always stated their supporters will be the first to call them out when they fail to practice what they preach. The courts should not have to step in when the inconsistencies in BRT are so obvious and have already been pointed out through the ADB report.

The judicial system would never have to step in if PTI kept its own people in line, promoted transparency and did not tolerate any potential corruption, especially on mega-projects. There is still time for the government to come out on the right side of this, it must look towards an in-house investigation if the SC allows for it. Completing the project after so many delays must also take precedence. After all, this is a project that the government claimed it could do better than its predecessors.