The Panama papers controversy rages on – denials, allegations and threats are flying about helter-skelter. In the middle of the maelstrom, who will head the investigation continues to be the biggest bone of contention. The opposition doesn’t trust the government nominated ex-judges, the government doesn’t trust the opposition nominated ex-FIA official, and nobody seems to trust the current crop at the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Perhaps the current Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali could have been a nominee all could have agreed upon – the opposition suggested him and the government couldn’t possible object the credibility of a Chief Justice it had just nominated – but on Tuesday Mr Jamali himself waded into the debate to pour water over such suggestions.

He was speaking at the hearing on the Sindh government’s appeal against the Sindh High Court’s February 10 judgment vis-à-vis the provincial local government law and he made no explicit mention of the Panama papers but his words leave very little room for doubt about his subject. “We are under pressure to take notice either on a suo motu or order the setting up of a judicial commission, but is it the job of the judiciary or of the executive to appoint commissions?” the Chief Justice asked. He claimed the executive had control over investigative institutions and therefore it should take the lead.

On a functional basis, such an analysis is correct. Even if a judicial commission is formed the judiciary has no capacity to conduct the investigation themselves; they will still be reliant on the FIA or the NAB to do the legwork. The same holds true for a suo motu action by the Supreme Court. The judiciary’s expertise lies in untangling the treads of an issue contested by two sides who have investigated the issue themselves, not in investigating problems. In an ideal world the NAB and the FIA should have already initiated investigations on their own and bought charges if wrongdoing was discovered.

However, it is not an ideal world; the NAB and FIA – under the control of the Interior Minister – are considered compromised. The fact that they are waiting for the political go-ahead before launching an investigation is testament to this fact. In such a scenario the judiciary must rise to fulfill its responsibilities if called on by the government. It cannot be an investigator, but it can be an independent director of investigation.

Demanding judicial commissions and joint investigation teams on trivial matters has become the norm recently – but if any issue truly merits a judicial commission it is the Panamagate.