What a sorry tale the Panama Leaks make: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government and party tries to land the Supreme Court with an impossibly open ended mandate to investigate cases of corruption that may include thousands of people; the opposition parties want to make the investigations Sharif specific. The clear picture emerging is that everyone denies corruption, alleges it on everyone else, wants everyone else to be investigated, but not themselves. Clearly, it appears too many people have too many things to hide.

The Prime Minister has so far been unwilling or unable to answer some of the simplest questions arising from the Panama Leaks fiasco, and he and his family, party and cabinet have remained busy in pointing at others’ offshore companies and/ or bank loan defaults and/or other instances of shady financial dealings, insisting that all others also be investigated by any commission that is formed. The attempt to form a commission with an unbelievably wide mandate, under a law that renders such commissions as toothless, is not currying any favours with PMLN voters.

Conversely, businessmen, opposition leaders from the PPP, PTI, judges and generals have not escaped Panama, but none is giving transparent answers or explanations of their own dealings that they expect of the Prime Minister – taking refuge in the fact that they are not in as high a public office as their target. This too is disingenuous at best.

What has become clear, however, is that very few stakeholders are untainted, and therefore it is very unlikely that anything positive or constructive, like the beginning of honest accountability, will emerge anytime soon from this scandal.

Having said the above, there is one player who needs special focus at this time: Mr. Imran Khan. His, once again, was the loudest and holiest than thou voice, that led the current charge against the ruling family in an attempt to de-seat the government. This is not the first time Mr. Khan has attempted taking the moral high ground and establishing himself as the only ‘honest’ politician on the face of Pakistan. It must be mentioned here, by the way, that the gent has never spoken of the instances of massive corruption within the armed forces. For twenty years he has focused on establishing himself as the anti-Christ to the ‘politicians’ of Pakistan. And his credulous supporters have largely bought his narrative, and accepted the idea of his being the alternative to all other politicians and political parties, because of the moral, financial and intellectual probity Mr. Khan has convinced them he is the sole paragon of.

Unfortunately, however, yet again Mr. Khan has been discovered to be no different to those he paints as evil, corrupt, thieves, morally and intellectually bankrupt. The instances substantiating this are far too many – but I shall attempt to outline a few: I remember in the 1990s Mr. Khan began his political career with his slogan against ‘VIP culture’. The Aitchison and Oxford educated resident of a palatial Zaman Park property was railing against politicians of being guilty of living in luxury, indulging in VIP culture and being too distant from the masses – from the VIP lounge of Lahore airport. When a journalist reminded him of where he was conducting his presser from, Mr. Khan became speechless for what seemed an interminable time, before sheepishly uttering, ‘aainda nahi karoon ga’ (I will not do this again). This, from the wannabe leader who reviled elitism, but was too elitist to be even registered as a voter when he contested elections for the very first time, and had to face the embarrassment of not even being able to vote for himself. The desire to project himself as very different from who he really is was manifest from his first ever book, in which he declared he would marry a good, Pakistani, Muslim Pathan woman of his mother’s choosing, and then went on to wed Jemima Goldsmith.

Mr. Khan has recently made the laughable claim in one of his innumerable jalsa’s that he was the only politician jailed by former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf, taking the falsifying of recent history to previously unconquered heights. The gentleman remained a sitting member of Pervez Musharraf’s ‘democratic regime’ till the two fell out over the number of seats Musharraf was willing to allow him (according to the general) – nor was Imran Khan ever jailed by the dictator. But he is wont to portray himself as the true and only champion of truth and democracy – no matter how many little porkies he needs to tell to do so.

The one man no one can dispute as being controversial or untruthful, the iconic social worker Mr. Abul Sattar Edhi, is on record as having disclosed to DAWN newsgroup, ‘Once, I was approached by General Hamid Gul, Imran Khan and few intelligence officials, who were conspiring to overthrow Benazir Bhutto’s second government and wanted me to get involved….. eventually, I was made to feel threatened enough to temporarily leave the country.’’ His interviews to different news groups also have him on record as having been threatened with kidnapping by this same group of people. But Mr. Khan continues to projected himself as the true democrat, after having been a part of the deep state’s plot to overthrow Bhutto’s democratically elected government.

Very recently, in the Islamabad jalsa on the 24th of April, Mr. Khan remained at pains to establish to his audience as to why he had entered politics despite having been given more than enough by Allah – and spent the better part of an hour establishing his ‘eeman’ (faith & piety), his accountability to God, and his mission to do good for poor Pakistanis being plundered and looted by ‘crocodiles’ (read: the likes of ex-President Zardari and PM Nawaz Sharif whose families had been found to have offshore companies, whom he has alleged to be corrupt and tax thieves for years).Like a preacher, he exhorted his audience to answerability to God – he was yet again claiming loftiness and nobility of purpose as reasons for entering politics, the dirtiest game in town, without so much as a nod to the actual origins of his entry into politics: General Hamid Gul and the intelligence agencies’ plan to overthrow Benazir Bhutto. He went on to allude to different prophets who battled ‘zulm’ (terror/cruelty/subjugation), in order to paint himself and his followers as those who are following in the path of the prophets fighting against the injustices and subjugation of Kafirs, Romans and Jews (present day Zardaris and Sharifs).Unfortunately, within two weeks of said jalsa broke the story of Mr. Khan’s own offshore company in which he had held his London property (and possibly other incomes and assets) up to the point of sale in 2003 to evade taxes. Unfortunate too, was his less than a month old commandment: ‘Only reason ppl open offshore accts through Panama is to either hide wealth, esp ill-gotten wealth, or to evade tax or both.

’The gent landed in London only the day before yesterday and had to face the press. And his ‘explanation’ was that it was his ‘right’ (haq) to evade British taxes, not being a British citizen – not withstanding the fact that his income was of British origin as was his property located in the same country. But being a non citizen of a country of which he enjoyed all facilities paid for by other peoples’ taxes, he felt quite justified in not paying his own fair share. Similar is the story of his Banigala property on the outskirsts of Islamabad, which was transferred to him from a ‘benami’ account, once again a tax evasion and hidden wealth indicator. Hilariously, Mr. Khan did not even disclose his offshore company in his filing to the ECP in 2002, before selling off the assets contained within it.

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that by comparison, Mr. Khan defrauded public ex-chequers (of at least two different countries) to the extent his own circumstances and reach allowed. Others may have done so to the tune of millions or billions. But the difference in scale and his lack of opportunities does not make him more moral, ethical or upright of character than those he accuses. The others may have committed corruption on a grand scale, but poor Mr. Khan has had to be content with doing singers and tent providers out of their due; whilst others travel in their own planes and helicopters, Mr. Khan has had to make do with travelling in planes and helicopters of those accused of defaulting on loans and massive land grabbing – the very same type of tainted characters he once swore never to allow in his party.

Of courage and intellectual honesty, would it be suffice to mention that Mr. Khan is on record as having stated in an interview in India that he cannot name the Taliban as perpetrators of senseless violence in Pakistan, for that would imperil his physical existence in Pakistan? The self evident leadership, vision and courage laid bare by this statement beg the question as to how he claims superiority of conviction, honesty and messianic zeal over his adversaries.

His claims of fraudulent elections and stolen mandate of 2013 and 2014 also lie in tatters, exposed not only by various election tribunals, the Election Commission of Pakistan, and Supreme Court judges, but also by results of repeated by-elections across the length and breadth of Pakistan (under His Umpire’s supervision). Mr. Khan’s dishonest allegations of rigging by opponents lay exposed with the center stage unfolding, in slow motion, of his conspiracy to find a short-cut to become Prime Minister, by hook or by crook, with the aid of a certain Pasha and his cohort of four generals. Here lay exposed once again, Mr. Khan’s claims to moral, ethical and democratic superiority; here lay the tatters of his ‘Islamic’ credentials: of not lying, cheating, or catching the nearest way; of earning one’s due with hard work.

In short, this is no apology for the PML-N or any other political party, or character; this is simply an illustrated assertion of why Mr. Khan is not who he claims to be; of why he is no reasonable alternative to the status quo; of why he is perhaps the worst alternative the people could choose (or have chosen for them). Alters and pedestals he has chosen to place himself on are mere straws that cannot even stand up to scrutiny, leave aside serious blows. Mr. Khan is the least qualified to propose himself as the saviour he purports to be.