It is a popular adage in Pakistan that government cases are never truly closed – they just get sent to the bottom of the pile of cases on the government’s desk and “de-prioritised”. And just as they can be sent down, they can be easily recalled to the top.

The corruption reference against Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari, has gone through such several reshuffles in its 16 year lifespan – filled in 2001, closed in 2007 due to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), reopened in 2009 on court orders and held in abeyance in 2015 when Mr Zardari started enjoying presidential immunity. Just as it seemed that the protracted saga was coming to a final close, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has sprung to life – challenging the acquittal of Mr Zardari and filling a strong worded appeal in the Lahore High Court (LHC).

In the hierarchy of government cases, how close to the top is Mr Zardari’s file now?

It seems that no one – not even the NAB itself – knows the answer to that question. The accountability body filed a terse appeal accusing the trial court of forgoing procedure and ignoring valid evidence, but even if that criticism is valid – and it seems like it is – the NAB itself hasn’t been the picture of diligence and competence. The PPP co-chairman may have been protected at periods of time due to the NRO, presidential immunity and a spell of “voluntary exile”, but for large tracts of time the man was free to be held under trial.

The accountability body, which has deliberately failed to send prosecutors to court on several occasions, may be appearing determined now, but which version of the NAB will turn up in court – the zealous one we see now, or the one that let the case idle along for years on end.

With the head of the sitting government recently disqualified due to a corruption reference, albeit indirectly, and almost daily scrutiny by the media and the public into the activities of the NAB, the pressure will be on the body to be the former.

Ultimately, the decision on what version of the NAB appears in court is determined by the interests of the administration directing it. Will the ruling party direct the NAB to target Mr Zardari with the same intensity their leader was targeted? Or will the NAB appeal also disappear into another anonymous limbo as a makeweight for other matters? Or will Asif Ali Zardari, once all the evidence has been analysed, be simply acquitted? It remains to be seen.

One thing is clear however, that the former president isn’t out of the water yet.