After pursuing several high-profile political cases, mostly against the Sharif family and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), NAB has started inquiries on all the other people named in the Panama Papers.

Taking action against the individuals named in Panama Leaks, the NAB’s executive board approved inquiries against multiple individuals, including the filing of three supplementary references against the Sharif family. However, this initiative has been presented as an attempt to be apolitical and unbiased, as the NAB also took action for the first time against important leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) — Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak and Zulfiqar Bukhari, a close aide to PTI chairman Imran Khan and a senior official of the KP government. Both PTI members are accused of illegally leasing out vast tracts of land to an international firm and owning offshore firms revealed in the Panama Papers. The executive board approved an inquiry against the owner of 15 companies named in the Panama Papers, which includes members of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Unlike NAB’s recent actions, such as publicizing Ahad Cheema’s picture and arrest before the trial, this move seems like an equalising move, to enforce accountability across the board. Thus, it is certainly appreciable that the net of accountability is being spread wider, and is including members from other parties apart from the PML-N, which has been in the crosshairs so far.

However, it must be noted though that at the moment the NAB has only “approved inquires” for a wide range of people. Whether all of them are followed up diligently and if they actually produce actionable charges remains to be seen. The NAB must be careful to prioritise all of them equally – if this new initiative only produces more scrutiny of the PML-N, then the body will open itself up to more criticism by the party.

The NAB is indeed in an extraordinary situation, one that the institution has not found itself in before, in the middle of a tussle between the judiciary and the parliament. Since it has one of the most influential positions in that cold war, the NAB must be very careful in drawing an apt balance to make its convictions and arrests based on justice and non-bias, and not political and judicial pressure. Victimising the Sharif family and PML-N only serves to discredit the anti-corruption movement, and does no favours to the anti-PML-N camp, as every biased move only increases their popularity.