It has been a very long time since a politician has put his money where his mouth is. Ziaullah Afridi, the PTI Provincial Minister for Mines and Minerals, was arrested by the KP Ehtesab Commission on corruption charges. PTI Chairman Imran Khan has said that will have to resign from his post till he clears himself. This is an important precedent that Imran Khan is setting. The PTI Chief has also stated that PTI MNAs will return the salaries they received for the period the party had been absent from the assembly.

PTI's return to the National Assembly was controversial, with many terming the party's return to the NA illegal. Others had criticised the party for burdening the national treasury by accepting salaries despite being absent. The PTI has taken a first step, in cleansing the government of corrupt officials. With defectors from the PPP joining the PTI en masse, the party has to play politics such that it keeps its anti-corruption image intact. Recent acquisitions like Nazar Muhammad Gondal already have corruption cases open against them. People like Gondal can bring it votes, but they do nothing to improve PTI’s reputation. In fact, it is PTI who will be giving these men a new start.

The Former Minister and Secretary for Mines and Minerals KP Nawabzada Mehmood Zeb and Shah Wali, and Bannu Commissioner Asmatullah Khan along with seven others were also arrested in a land leasing scandal. PTI is a new party and 68 years of corruption cannot be washed away over night. For now, it does not matter that the PTI has corrupt men in its ranks borrowed from the PML-N and PPP, this an accepted trend. What matters to the public is the appearance that the PTI will punish those who are caught. While not ideal, this is all we have in terms of political accountability by any party in Pakistan.

It is okay to still be sceptical about the PTI. There are many a shady personality in its ranks. While the party will return salaries of absent the MNAs, it took them some time to decide to do the right thing. Public criticism can catalyse these changes. In contrast, the PPP, PML-N and MQM have had spectacular public debacles, and no culling of is ranks. The list of ministers and former ministers of these parties, that have corruption charges, or have been negligent in their duty, is long and colourful. KP might be on the path towards healing itself, but accountability in the Punjab and Sindh is unlikely.