As a Muslim League child it is painful to write against my father’s party. He joined the League in 1935 in Ludhiana and remained with the party till his death in 1991. In recognition of his services to the movement, he was awarded the Tehrik-e-Pakistan Gold Medal in 1990. Political luminaries like Jinnah, Iqbal, Nazimuddin had the distinction of leading the founding party of the country. Recently I was quizzed by a Bengali friend about the League. The question was, where and when was the party formed? He was surprised by my prompt reply, Decca 1906. He then went on to exclaim why the party was formed by the Muslims of Bengal?

By contrast GHQ produced three versions of the League. Ayub Khan’s PML (Convention), Zia-ul-Haq’s PML-N and Musharraf’s PML-Q; all equally corrupt. In all the three cases the purpose was to weaken the genuine democratic order by installing corrupt, inept political leadership. In the sixties Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) revolted against his mentor Ayub Khan and formed his independent political outfit called the Pakistan’s Peoples Party (PPP). Like the Muslim League of 1906, ZAB stood for the economic emancipation of the common man. PPP’s slogan was ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ (Food, Clothing, Shelter). Till 1985 corruption in Pakistan was very limited. The partyless elections followed by the emergence of PML (Pagara) and then PML-N opened the floodgates of this menace. PML-N is a party of vested self interests where one is expected to make money. I usually ask my friends in the league to name five leaders whose assets did not increase after entering politics. With great difficulty they can name only two.

After the Panama Leaks, corruption is being widely discussed. PML-N’s stance is very clear, that there is no concept of clean politics in the country. I was prompted to write this article after watching the TV Programme on the tirade of corruption committed by the PTI leadership that surrounds the Kaptaan. Being the party in power why are the hounds of accountability not being let loose on these corrupt elements? NAB, FIA, IB, ISI, MI can all do a good job. Tons of data already exists to unfold the corrupt practices but it remains a war of words only. While Kaptaan has sought the help of Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) to seek disqualification of corrupt PML-N leadership, Pakistan will be best served if PML-N goes after the corrupt elements within PTI. Tirades on electronic media are not enough. If PML-N has a mandate to rule as it claims, then it is duty bound to go after corrupt elements. If for political exigencies it cannot NAB its own members, there is nothing to stop them from going after the unscrupulous in other parties including PTI that has taken them to the court of law.

By not going after the corrupt in other parties it is becoming abundantly clear that PML-N is seeking NRO-II similar to Musharraf’s NRO-I that brought back the thugs to rule over us. Roguery is being prompted to establish the hegemony of the corrupt. Being personally clean himself Kaptaan has repeatedly challenged PML-N to go after the corrupt within the ranks of PTI, the challenge should be accepted by the party in power. I am sure there will be no resistance from the rank and file of the party as everyone within PTI except for a few unscrupulous elements is totally committed to accountability. PML-N has an opportunity to start the cleansing movement from the party that claims to be clean.

Let the cleansing start in 2017 and continue till the next electoral exercise. So far PML-N has been on the defensive as far as corruption is concerned. It is widely believed that offense is the best defence. For PML-N the time for offensive has arrived. Either it is operation clean up or NRO-II the choices are limited. While SCP will resume the hearing of Panama Leaks under a new and more permanent Chief Justice, PML-N can go after corrupt elements in other parties as they firmly believe that there can be no clean politics in the country.

Twice before both PPP and PML-N governments have been dismissed for corruption. It was President Farooq Leghari who decided on accountability after dismissing the government of his own party. Ehtisab Bureau was formed under a retired judge and references were filed against the PPP leadership, which then continued under Saif-ur-Rehman in Mian Sahib’s stint in power. When Musharraf took over he formed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) with great fanfare and filed references against PML (N) leadership. Mian Sahib and his family decided on an agreement of self exile while others who joined PML-Q were pardoned. Accountability has never been taken seriously as corruption has been rampant in the political leadership.

Being a party of status quo PML-N has a very clear stance on corruption: Catch us if you can. The party believes that corruption is a way of life in Pakistan, one must learn to cover their bases and not get caught. PML-Q and now PPP is not far behind. PTI started off well but then fell into the same trap under the guise of political realities. When the current PTI leadership talks about the corruption of PML-N, they counter attack by highlighting the misdeeds of former PML-Q leaders who now surround the Kaptaan, it then becomes a scenario of the pot calling the kettle black.

For PML-N time is running out while its corruption is being highlighted. Sooner or later they are bound to be trapped. NRO-II may not be able to save them. An offense against the corrupt of other parties is the best option for them. Cleansing has to take place and the best place to start the process is from the party whose leadership claims to be clean. PML-N should accept Kaptaan’s challenge by nabbing his party and exposing its cleanliness.