The government’s thirst for filing references and launching enquires against opposition politicians doesn’t seem to end. After putting a majority of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders on trial in accountability cases, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information (SAPM) Firdous Ashiq Awan in a press conference on Saturday revealed that the federal cabinet this week granted approval for launching an inquiry against senior politician Khawaja Asif for allegedly posing a risk to national security. According to Ms Awan, the matter had been referred to the Ministry of Interior with instructions to investigate to determine as to “how one tasked with safeguarding the country’s national security, the defence minister, was working for another country and presenting a security risk to Pakistan”.

It should be noted that this is not the first time that Khawaja Asif has been under trial. Previously, in April 2018, he was disqualified for life by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for not disclosing his employment in a UAE company as an occupation as well as the monthly salary he was receiving. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, however, overturned that decision and declared that Asif was free of charges and could contest the 2018 elections.

It seems however that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was not satisfied with the decision and is still trying to penalise Asif for holding an iqama from a UAE company. This time the investigation against him still stems from his work permit, but is under the guise of concern about how his work permit would have affected his conduct as the Defence and Foreign Minister of the country.

There does not seem to be much difference between the allegations against Asif in 2018 and now- the new investigation seems petty and vindictive. If the Supreme Court of Pakistan has already declared Asif to be competent enough to hold public office, it feels like futility to launch an independent investigation into Asif’s tenure as the Defence and Foreign Minister. It also hints of double jeopardy- even after going through the justice process in the case of iqama, Asif’s Dubai Company and assets will again be thoroughly investigated on no new information. The inquiry reads even more unnecessary when there have been no evident complaints of Asif’s minister-ships either.

The government will achieve little with this inquiry other than adding fuel to the rumours that it is needlessly hounding opposition politicians. It is difficult to view this inquiry as anything but a waste of precious resources and money that the government keeps claiming it doesn’t have.