A required respite was accorded to election candidates facing corruption cases – as well as to stem the allegations of bias – as National Accountability Bureau (NAB) decided to defer arrests until after polling day. Where the anti-graft body has faced heated criticism for its myopic focus on conferring accountability on the singular PML-N political party, it can be said that NABs conciliatory decision is a belated attempt at dispelling concerns over its recent tenacious crusade against PML-N. There is no question that NAB, as an anti-corruption body, is mandated to remain apolitical, which is why its curiously-timed and highly punitive actions against PML-N are being labelled as a politicisation of accountability before the elections.

It also comes as no surprise that NABs course correction was met with resounding censure from the riled PTI quarter. Where the past year has seen the party’s ideology abridge into a rigorous vendetta against the PML-N, it also brings to attention how the party has started to define its projected victory in terms of the absolute castigation of PML-N members. Further muddying the waters is PTIs reliance/expectation on institutions like NAB to one-sidedly enact this vendetta with the exigency of sentencing the party stalwarts before the votes are cast. As much was demonstrated by its deeming NABs decision ‘against the laws of the country’, highlighting the recurrent rhetoric of political expediency that defines the agenda of the political party at the expense of fair-mindedness.

Where accountability cannot be suspended for the cause of an election, NABs recent campaign against the buffeted party required such tempering to adhere to the tenets of impartiality. And where NAB certainly needs to correct its tangential course, refuting the politicization of its vocation, political parties like the PTI also need to take stock of their spite-driven platforms realising that inciting such partisan answerability only harms the larger cause of holding all forms and proponents of corruption accountable.