Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Thursday showed his support for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and said he considered the Panama case verdict null and void. The shocking thing he said was that no person can carry out corruption individually unless he has accommodating bodies present in the set-up, signalling to the nebulous “establishment”. While parliaments and parliamentarians are subjected to countless probes and heavy censure, other institutions generally escape blame and criticism.

While the JUI-F Chief can be corrected on his view that the Panama investigation is a useless issue – it is not, money laundering and corruption, by a bureaucrat or from a politician, is a serious concern – his point that corruption has a support system hits home. The uber-rich in our country are not just politicians, but it has only been politicians the system has been able to ever hold accountable. It is too naïve to suggest that other officials from other institutions live simple lives and abide by the law at all times.

Due to the ruling on the Panama case, a precedent has been set to holding the highest office in the land accountable, that too at a standard so high that every candidate will have to tread with extreme care in their political career. There are no repercussions for any of the non-democratic institutions, under whose watchful eyes corruption and foul play happens.

Corruption is a cyclical process that has become entrenched in all branches of the government. Transparent and serious politics should take place, and they must rely on the principles of honesty and integrity. If the parliamentarians are the first to be investigated and forced to play clean, so be it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so they say. The Maulana is correct in pointing out that such which-hunts promote a narrative in favour of dictatorships. However, if our judiciary and military have no intention of hijacking the democratic process, we have nothing to fear. If they do, in today’s Pakistan they will also be subjected to protest and dissent. If people stay silent, it is because their political representatives have failed them.

“This all (Panamagate) did not unfold automatically. It was hatched at the international level in a bid to strip each other,” the JUI-F chief, descending into conspiracy theory. This is not the time for conspiracy theories but for politicians to know that what is considered the state’s weakest institution, the parliament, has to be strengthened. Eliminating financial corruption, and responding to constituent’s concerns will go a long way in making sure people never have to support dictatorships.