PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari has it correct; Shahbaz Sharif’s release from jail is indeed a “good omen for democracy”. Having the country’s Leader of Opposition in jail speaks volumes about the discord that plagues the national political conversation and is in large part responsible for the dysfunction that has bogged down its parliament. The government’s promise of refraining from political vicitimisation, delivered as a solemn vow by Prime Minister Imran Khan in his inaugural speech, seems to have been as empty as they come.

This is not to say that all allegations against political persons are baseless or they should not be investigated. What is condemnable was the manner in which this investigation was being carried out. Shahbaz Sharif was cooperating with the authorities, and as a prominent politician he is certainly not a flight risk – yet the arrest was sprung on him in sensationalist style, and his remand was extended time and again. What information they can get out of him in confinement, in what is essentially an alleged white collar crime, which they couldn’t have gotten through routine interrogation is beyond understanding. The political undertones of the arrest were not very difficult to perceive – and they weren’t intended to be hidden anyway.

The result of this, and the ruling party’s confrontational approach in the Parliament, is there for everyone to see. Instead of trying to foster a working environment where political differences could be set aside momentarily and political parties could come together to tackle national issues the parliament – and the whole system of the government by extension – has become a long drawn out battle. Positions are now being taken solely based on party affiliations instead of the merits of the issues under discussion, crippling the functioning of the government.

It is hoped that with the release of Shahbaz Sharif the government, and the institutions of the government, adopt a policy of non-confrontation and reconciliation.