Addressing an impressive public rally near the residence of Sharif family in Raiwind last week, PTI chairman Imran Khan threatened to bring Islamabad to a standstill if PM Nawaz Sharif failed to present himself before state institutions for accountability regarding Panama-leaks issue within one month. Naturally, country’s political temperature would considerably shoot up if PTI really opts to do so after the month of Muharram. Since no political party has participated in PTI’s recent Raiwind rally, therefore they will also hardly become part of PTI’s provoking movement against the incumbent government in future.

A couple of months ago, I just predicted that the PTI and its ‘lone ranger’ would alone be on the roads on the Panama-leaks issue and all other political parties would do nothing beyond paying lip service to the issue. It is likely that the leaders of these political parties are tarred with the same brush when it comes to corruption and misappropriation of state resources. Therefore, they won’t choose to wash each other’s dirty linen in public. They are the natural beneficiaries of the political status quo in the country. Therefore, they will collectively act to perverse this political status quo by all means.

In fact, the PTI has been found quite inclined towards seeking and grabbing some instant political opportunities to readily put an end to the current PML-N regime in the country. Therefore, just like the previous electoral rigging issue, now PTI has somehow become overly obsessed with the current Panama-leaks issue too. Describing the electoral rigging as country’s primary political malady, it has actively launched an extensive anti-government mass movement. Now on panama-leaks issue, a similar political trajectory on the part of PTI is being predicted. PTI has identified these issues as an instrument to instantly dislodge PM Nawaz Sharif after a judicial probe.

At present, no accountability or investigative agency in Pakistan looks interested in seriously probing the Panama-leaks matter in the country. The reference submitted by the PTI against PM Nawaz Sharif in the ECP is just in the middle of nowhere. The speaker National Assembly has already rejected PTI’s similar reference. Moreover, the ‘unaccountable’ heads of various important state institutions have foiled the recent initiatives taken by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in the wake of Panama papers revelations.

Therefore, now the Supreme Court of Pakistan is PTI’s last resort to get Panama conundrum resolved. The Apex Court may decide to try the Panama scandal upon a petition submitted by the PTI under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. It may also probe this matter once the 12-memeber Parliamentary Committee succeeds in finalizing the consensus TOR for the proposed Panama probe. In either case, the Apex Court can conclusively determine the so-called Panama question in Pakistan. Nevertheless, the PTI would by no means achieve its short-term political objectives out of it.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has admitted PTI’s petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution to decide the question of maintainability of the said petition. However, the Apex Court is very unlikely to entertain this petition for hearing as it has visibly distanced itself from the so-called Iftikhar Chaudhry Doctrine over a period of time. The CJP has also already spoken his mind on a number of occasions that all state organs should remain within their respective constitutional domain.

If the Apex Court decides to hear PTI’s petition, then there would be required a considerable time for the proper conclusion this trial. Similarly, the proposed Panama inquiry would also take significant time owing to the complex nature of the case, which also involves foreign jurisdiction. Moreover, the incumbent government is equally determined to make this matter even more complex by requiring the proposed commission to probe against all Pakistanis named in the Panama Papers. A few months ago, I had an opportunity of meeting a former judge of the Apex Court who was also requested by the government to become part of intended Panama probe commission. He just gave me the idea that there would be required at least 2 years to properly conclude the Panama-leaks inquiry.

It should also be kept in mind that neither the Apex Court has yet decided the question of maintainability of PTI’s petition, nor the Parliamentary Committee has finalized the TOR’s for the intended Probe commission so far. Indeed, both proceedings will take extra time. Therefore, I am of the view that the intended Panama probe or trial whatsoever, though which are still a distant possibility, won’t anyhow effect PM Nawaz Sharif’s current term of office. In either case, the PML-N would successfully complete the remaining one and half year of its tenure.

In the worst-case scenario, PM Nawaz Sharif will have to step down in consequence of Panama probe or trial. However, even in that situation, the PML-N would continue to manage to stay in power. Besides his younger brother Mian Shahbaz Sharif, there are also many other PML-N stalwarts in the federal cabinet that would readily step into PM Nawaz Sharif’s shoes. It should also not be forgotten that the PML-N, with its vast electoral experience, is capable of competing other political parties, including PTI, in the next general elections through its organized party structure and political heavyweights.

The PTI’s leaders must now realize that they cannot knock out PML-N merely by means of panama scandal and other similar things. PTI has spent half of the five years on the roads while protesting against the alleged electoral rigging. Now it seems that it would spend the remaining time in making protests against the panama scandal. However, PTI should learn serious lessons from its consecutive defeats in the local bodies’ elections, by- elections and recent elections in the AJK. As a matter of fact, presently the PTI is by no means better organized politically as compared to what it was in 2013 General Elections.

The street protests and demonstrations will certainly help evolve party’s narrative vis-a-vis any specific political or national issue. But during the elections, only an organized political party can translate this narrative into some concrete electoral accomplishments. Therefore, the PTI should not exhaust its entire political energy while making public demonstrations against the incumbent government in one way or the other. Instead, it should focus on party’s structural and organizational matters to make it politically vibrant and more competitive in the forthcoming general elections. It should behave like a mature mainstream political party rather than resorting to the status of a pressure group.