While both sides are squarely accusing each other for the leak of Hussain Nawaz’s photo while being questioned by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), and are offering wildly different theories on why this was done, at least they are in agreement over one thing – the leaking of the photo was an appalling act that goes against all norms of investigative practice.

And appalling it is – even in the middle of a historic and high-profile investigation, the members could not refrain from leaking to the media for minute gains. The Supreme Court hearings on the Panama scandal, despite any other perceived shortcomings, were always considered to be neutral and bipartisan. The verdict, even if it was not what some sections of the nation wanted, was hailed as landmark considering how openly both parties had acquiesced to the apex court’s judgment. The resulting JIT however, is being politicised from the day it was formed. From the Prime Minister family’s claiming that it is too harsh in its questioning, to the opposition claiming it is too weak in its formation, the JIT has not been afforded the same respect the court was. This leaked picture is another blow – now the spectre of partisanship looms over the investigation.

The picture may have achieved the limited goal of portraying the family of the Prime Minister “bought down” to the level of a common man and has done the rounds on social media, but it damages the investigation in the long run. Either a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) sympathetic member of the JIT leaked the picture to “humiliate” the Prime Minister as the government claims, or a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) sympathetic member released it to discredit the JIT as the opposition claims. Whatever the truth is, the fact remains that from here on out, the JIT will be presumed to be biased by the supporters of each party against themselves.

While the accusations will continue to fly, unsubstantiated for the most part, the government has the ability to make things right. It has been reported that the chairman of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) Wajid Zia has taken notice of ‘leaked’ photo of Hussain Nawaz, but the reaction must go beyond mere notice. Only a few people had access to the JIT documents and the release of the picture online can be traced back to its source as well; this issue needs to be investigated and the culprit bought to light.