If one was to do a breakdown of the Information Minister’s press conferences by subject, it would emerge that the vast majority of them have been reserved for a single subject – corruption and the ongoing investigations into the opposition’s politicians. Given this imbalance, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Information Minister also moonlights as the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) and the state prosecutor’s official spokesperson. And while that might be a role our Information Minister would’ve have been more comfortable in, the unfortunate fact is that he in charge of a crucial federal ministry – one that appears to be forgotten at the moment. This is not his job.

These distinctions seem to be lost on the government. With the recent press conference by Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry – who was accompanied by Hammad Azhar, minister of state for revenue, and Shahzad Akbar, special assistant to prime minister on accountability – the government has once more personally invested itself into the trials against Asif Ali Zardari and the Sharifs. Coming at the back of Naeem Bukhari - another government party member - being appointed to the NAB investigation team, the standards of procedural propriety and unbiased conduct have been well and truly abandoned. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) cannot claim that this is a “routine” investigation anymore; it is a personal vendetta and all government hands are on deck.

The neglect that the many departments under the Information Ministry – related to fields as diverse as the arts, language, heritage, and journalism – is a serious problem on its own right that merits condemnation. However, the way that the government is going about the task of taking down the opposition is even more problematic. The latest press conference was little more than a one-sided media trial; with the Information Minister reading off a list of accusations and proclaiming guilt all in the same sentence. Even if the government has unearthed new information and evidence which might implicate the opposition leaders, it is the task of the state prosecutors to use this information in a court of law and prove legal guilt, not for federal ministers to bandy the allegedly incriminating information about and skewer the character of the accused unilaterally.

However, even if the Information Minister seems to relish these attacks, we cannot blame him for not following the principles of legal procedure and parliamentary conventions – the tone is set from the top. When the Prime Minister has not refrained from taking unsubstantiated potshots at the opposition, it is difficult to see his lieutenants doing otherwise.