It is an often repeated sentiment about politics that there is no ideology with politicians; only opportunisms. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) aimed to prove everyone wrong and for some time, it seemed they did, with the big accomplishment of engaging youth and civil society into politics like never before. However, with the recent happenings of the Election Commission of Pakistan and Imran Khan’s case, PTI has fallen foul of the same strict accountability checks it claims to fight for.

The Election Commission on Monday suspended the membership of 261 lawmakers for failure to submit details of their finances under sub-section 42A of the Representation of People Act (RoPA) by the deadline. Under this law, all parliamentarians are required to submit to the election commission the details of their own assets, and that of their spouses and children. Among the suspended members are Captain Safdar, PTI’s estranged MNA Ayesha Gulalai, State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry, Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yousaf and former National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza amongst other household names.

While accountability checks and the issue of corruption should not be turned into a blame game or a political tool, it is interesting to note that those suspended include prominent politicians who have been very vocal about the Panama Papers case. In fact, In terms of percentage, the greatest proportion of suspended lawmakers came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly, as 30.7 percent of them defaulted on filing of assets statements.

This incident should serve as a moment of introspection from all political parties to ensure transparency. It is disappointing then that this decision of the ECP is being met with complaints that the asset submissions are onerous. ECP may have doubled down on accountability but it must be remembered that ROPA, enacted in 2002 by Pervaiz Musharraf, has been criticized for failing to bring about any meaningful transparency and allowing politicians to flout it. Moreover, this is not the first time that the law is being applied harshly, with 336 lawmakers being suspended last year for failure to submit their financial statements to the commission.

While almost every national party is featured prominently in the list of suspended, the first question must be asked of those who have made financial accountability and transparency their sole mission statement.

PTI may feel targeted by Imran’s case in the ECP and by these suspensions but it must realize that it is these same strict asset reports which disqualified Nawaz Sharif. The Supreme Court’s order in July was not a victory for PTI but a lesson for accountability; a lesson that the members being suspended better learn fast.