Is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s recent claim, that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is “the most corrupt regime” in Pakistan’s history, true or is it just another example of political gimmickry, the game that has become commonplace in Pakistan’s politics, where corruption is now the main cudgel used by any opposition? Bilawal’s hour-long press conference, where he hotly laid a litany of complaints against the government, indicates that relations between the government and the opposition are getting increasingly heated, with the latter using the government’s own call of corruption against them.

Yet is this a smart strategy for Bilawal, and indeed for the country? While he voiced some valid criticisms against PTI, including the complete lack of cohesion, their biased dealings with the Sindh government and the poor strategy towards tackling the coronavirus, some of the claims Bilawal laid at the party’s feet were serious and warrant investigation. The “most corrupt regime” charge however, used by nearly every opposition party in the last five years, is a cliché at this point, difficult to take seriously and desensitises the word “corruption”. The government’s main response came from Murad Saeed, who used the opportunity to challenge Bilawal Bhutto to a debate on the stage of his choosing. Perhaps our learned politicians have forgotten that political point scoring and grandstanding is not their main trade.

Outlandish outrage, without any suggestions or advice, is unproductive. Lamenting at the state of PIA or corruption in government offices, without acknowledging that systematic corruption has existed for decades will not lead the country closer to progress—these criticisms, even if true, just sound like political mud-slinging and senseless partisan divides then. This shot-firing by Bilawal has led to a similar response by the government, with PTI leaders in turn taking jibes at Bilawal’s father. It is unfortunate that the political battlefield has been reduced to this—a lot of very serious allegations being thrown on all sides, with no real attempts to make anything stick.

Perhaps these same old tired politics might have worked in the past—but in this time of an exceptional crisis, these tit-for-tat tactics by these parties feel outdated, desperate and hollow.