LAHORE - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may have got a clean bill of health from his London doctors, but he has still to go a long way to get a similar certification for his family members facing charges of accumulating wealth in offshore accounts.

Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif’s Tuesday statement is expected to expedite the process the “accused” are supposed to be through to prove their innocence.

Gen Raheel , who will be serving out his three-year term in November and has already refused any extension, said “across-the-board accountability is necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan”.

Also, he said the war against terror cannot be won unless “the menace of corruption is uprooted.”

“Pakistan’s Armed Forces will fully support every meaningful effort in that direction which would ensure a better future for our next generations.”

Panama leaks and their political fallout has been the main subject of almost all discussions and TV talk shows for more than a week now. Since the accountability and steps against corruption are supposed to be taken by the government and the NAB, the two are the probable addressees of the COAS.

While leaders of various countries mentioned in the Panama leaks have already stepped down or forced to quit, in Pakistan the government and other parties have not been able to agree upon the mechanism needed to take the matter to its logical conclusion.

The army chief, therefore, ostensibly, means that the prime minister should follow the same rules for accountability which are for other people. And since he links the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of the country to “across-the-board accountability” he appears to be pretty serious on the subject.

The prime minister has repeatedly claimed that his name has not been mentioned in the Panama leaks and that the opposition parties are unnecessarily criticising him. Should this mean that he is not responsible for the (mis)doings of his apolitical sons and the talented daughter who, many say, is the future “Benazir Bhutto” of the PML-N?

Even if the prime minister’s argument is accepted, he must keep in mind that he too is facing some important cases at home. And unless they are decided in his favour, he cannot claim to be man of clean hands.

One important case against him concerns the ISI funds he had allegedly received, like many other politicians, to defeat Benazir Bhutto in the 1990 elections.

Air Marshal Asghar Khan took the matter to the Supreme Court, which ordered the Federal Investigation Agency during the PPP rule, to probe the allegation.

But, so far, there is no progress in the investigations. And there is no hope for any progress even in future as no official can dare ask the accused searching questions. (A former army chief (Gen Aslam Beg) and a former ISI chief (Gen Asad Durrani) are also among the accused).

There are also other cases against the prime minister, his brother Shahbaz Sharif, and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The NAB has categorised these cases as of mega corruption.

The NAB was supposed to dispose these cases by March 31. But it has not been able to do so.

The reason is very clear. The accused are mightier than the NAB.

Not long ago, the prime minister at a public meeting had alleged that the NAB is harassing government officers. They bureaucrats, he said, are afraid of taking decisions (signing of files of different projects) because of the NAB harassment. The NAB terrifies the government officers, hindering them from performing their duty.” He had further said the NAB officials enter the houses and offices of “innocent people” without verifying the authenticity of corruption or other charges.

He said “I brought the matter to the notice of the NAB chairman a couple of times. He should take notice. Otherwise, the government will take legal action in this regard.”

The message was very clear. The PML-N, PPP and other parties agree that there’s a need to clip the wings of the NAB.

Ever since the prime minister used threatening language against the NAB, the anti-graft watchdog has not taken any major decision in any case.

Interestingly, when the NAB chairman called on the president on Tuesday to present him the institution’s annual report, he was advised that to improve its performance the NAB should start a process of self-accountability.

This means that both the head of the government and the head of state want to keep the NAB on the defensive.

This should amply explain the importance and the need for Gen Raheel Sharif’s statement underlining the need for across-the-board accountability and eradication of the menace of corruption.

Information minister came up with a quick reaction that the government would not let anyone involve in politicking on the pretext of corruption eradication.

Now whether the government and the army chief are on the same page – as rhetorically claimed by various ministers – is anybody’s guess.