For the first time, I felt sorry for the man as he struggled to vindicate himself and his family on national television. My sympathy was an instinctive compassionate reaction followed by a ‘reap what thou shalt sow’ emotion. The disclosures contained in, what is now globally referred to as the ‘Panama Leaks’, generated a shockwave that is now rattling the very foundation of many world governments and politicians, including ours.

In Iceland, a country least expected to be an affected party, people took to the streets demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister, who in deference to popular sentiment, offered to dissolve the legislature – a move that has been rejected by that country’s President.

Closer to home, a commission was promptly set up by the Supreme Court, to probe into relevant contents of the document as they pertained to our Eastern neighbour.

In what was perhaps a knee-jerk reaction devoid of due diligence, our ruling leadership appeared on television to announce that a ‘judicial commission’ was being set up to ‘audit’ (and vindicate) the role of the Prime Minister and his family with regards to their offshore holdings and assets. The ever alert media immediately detected a fatal flaw in this exercise, pointing out that while this body could be an ‘Enquiry Commission’ it would only have judicial credibility if it was appointed by the Apex Court. The observation appeared legally and morally appropriate as the suggested commission, consisting of retired judges appointed by government choice, was nothing short of the accused indirectly donning the role of judge and jury.

The route taken for setting up the judicial commission was in all probability a result of injudicious advice, given by an inner circle that has the Chief Executive’s ears on matters as critical as this one. If this is true, then it is this very inner circle that will prove the PM’s undoing.

There are saner and equally loyal voices in the ruling party that have been pushed to the outer rim, because of their pragmatic and outspoken demeanour. These must be given a hearing if the Prime Minister wishes to repair the damage that is even now being inflicted on his image.

I however do not reckon that this will happen. To many, the writing on the wall is gradually becoming more legible, especially when the People’s Party has joined forces with PML N’s political opponents. Where will the current wave of criticism and protests lead to, is the million dollar question, but dynamics indicate that these could be heading towards a worst-case scenario, where the ruling party leadership per se, may not remain as politically relevant as before. Nonetheless, the current events are a test of the Sharif family’s crisis management ability and political wisdom.

The storm generated by ‘Panama Leaks’ may even leave scars on the notion of democracy as interpreted by Pakistan’s political leadership and activists, who refuse to acknowledge the painful reality that we lack the factors, essentially needed for democracies to deliver. These include high rate of literacy, strong industrialised economy, well managed urbanisation, effective law enforcement and a speedy judicial structure. A democratic dispensation under our homegrown circumstances, more often than not, breeds corruption; lack of merit; crime and an overall state of poor governance. The roadmap to a flourishing and successful democracy (particularly in former colonies) begins with an autocratic undertone so that the long term vision of respective founding fathers can be implemented no matter how ‘draconic’ the means may seem to appear. Those inclined to challenge this notion, have only to take a look at the case studies of Singapore and India.

From an optimistic point of view, the present crisis and its aftermath on a global scale (if there is any) may prove to be a blessing for the Pakistani nation. It may trigger the realisation that blind mindsets (prevalent in our voting pattern) are no more relevant. It should send home the message that governments must be voted into office on issues and past performance, not on obsolete notions of loyalty, kinship, ethnic linkages and personal profit.