It has been remarked, widely and often, that the fervor that was expected from this election is oddly missing. The canvassing has been minimal and almost formal, the rallies are standard fare and the political back and forth is uncharacteristically tame. Given the forces in play and the controversies in the air, this election was slated to be a fiery one – however, it seems that we are still waiting for the spark.

That spark may well be the Accountability Court’s judgment in the Avenfield case, expected to be announced later today – unless Nawaz Sharif’s petition to delay the announcement is accepted.

Considering that the judgment’s potential to upend the political landscape, it is perhaps understandable that parties are watching cautiously to see what happens. Either result, an acquittal for Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz, or a conviction resulting in some form of incarceration, are equally explosive results, but for different reason.

An acquittal is what the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) is obviously hoping for. A vindication of their stance, and the assurance that the Sharif legacy continues in the capable hands of Maryam Nawaz is essential before the elections.

However, the more likely of the outcomes – if the indications coming from the judiciary are to be believed – would not be the devastation it is slated to be.

Maryam’s fledgling political career would be shot down, while Nawaz – who stands disqualified as it is – might have to face the possibility of time behind bars. And while political opponents may rejoice seeing their most formidable challenges removed outright, the masses will react differently – and at the end of the day it is the masses that decide the fate of political parties.

So close to the elections, the image of Nawaz Sharif being taken away by the authorities, or behind bars, will be a powerful one. Nawaz has railed time and again against discrimination and political victimisation; his speeches have drawn large crowds, and here, weeks before the elections, his argument will be substantiated. He will play the martyr, lionise the media coverage, and become the sole talking point leading into the polls. No one will be talking about KP’s performance or the water shortage anymore – everyone will be talking about the fate of the Sharifs.

The PML-N will rake in the sympathy vote, there is little doubt about it, but such an incident also has the power to bring party workers out on the streets in protest. Now the PML-N would have a cause, a (perceived) injustice to right. The party will go into the polls charged and defiant, and that may make all the difference.

There may yet be a spark to this election.