Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be the first ever sitting prime minister of Pakistan who will be probed in an election rigging case. The Prime Minister, along with many other politicians of different parties, is facing allegations of receiving money from the ISI to defeat Pakistan Peoples Party in the general elections of 1990. The Federal Instigation Agency (FIA) has already completed its probe against other accused politicians, including former federal minister Syeda Abida Hussain, Javed Hashmi, former Punjab governor Mustafa Khar and journalist Altaf Hassan Qureshi. Former Army Chief General (r) Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Lt-Gen Asad Durrani are next on the list of “interviews”. The allegation is that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had distributed millions of rupees among the politicians to prevent late Benazir Bhutto from winning the elections.

The Asghar Khan case has been pending for many years and it is uncertain that the prosecution will be able to present a good case to the court. In the short order of the case for 2012 the Chief Justice extensively mentioned the role of Armed Forces but avoided naming any politician who benefitted from the so called ‘election cell’. It seemed that the Supreme Court practically convicted them but fell short of making it official. Clarity would have amounted to accusations of treason and political chaos. Many lacunas were left unresolved, as if the court was in a hurry to get rid of the case. Another three years on, it seems too little too late to convict anyone, unless there is new vigour in the Supreme Court to finally settle the matter. The FIA’s investigation has been slower than a tortoise. The whole case is not some fantasy made up by the opposition. Everything is in black and white- who received how much money. But what about the recipients? Aren’t they accessories in the crime? What happens then to their eligibility to contest elections? The FIA has to get serious.

The investigation has been termed an “interview” with the PM rather than an investigation in light of the office he holds, and rightly so. Proving rigging allegations is slippery business, (as Imran Khan should have learnt by now). Proving rigging that happened twenty-five years ago will be quite a feat. Added to this uphill climb for the PPP is the fact that the PML-N is politically all-powerful and the PPP has fallen from popularity and from grace. No one is above the law, but many in Pakistan have been able to slip from under it and avoid prosecution and arrest. The PML-N has had a series of lessons learnt in the past year and it should know now that its power has limits. However, there is a cleansing happening- of militancy, crime, corruption, unaccountability- and even the army is not immune.