The opposition members paying for the Prime Minister’s blood over Panama leaks may not know this yet, but the spectre of financial accountability, once loosened, will come to haunt them too. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday, published the asset details of all the parliamentarians – which it had mysteriously taken down from its website prompting severe criticism. They can also be purchased from the ECP by paying a paltry sum of Rs 1,038. The public declaration of parliamentarian’s asset maybe required by law, but the ECP has rarely been stringent in pressing for details or punishing non-compliers.

While it is a long and ponderous read, the details do reveal some very interesting facts. For example, Jamshed Dasti is a poor parliamentarian with total declared assets worth Rs 2,653; which makes one wonder how he ever got elected to parliament – or how he affords to attend National Assembly sessions, considering the cost of diesel? Similarly, politicians bristling at the wealth of Nawaz Sharif – such as Imran Khan – are not so modest themselves. The PTI chairman’s assets are worth Rs 1.3 billion. More conspicuous are the absentees. The National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq asset’s detail is missing on the ECP website, raising all sorts of questions.

The PML-N may be attacking opposition member’s track records to defend itself, but PM Nawaz Sharif is at least right in claiming that the rest of the parliament is not as innocent as it claims to be. It must be remembered, there are more than 200 Pakistani’s with offshore companies in the leaks, including numerous politicians. While the relatively sophisticated scheme of tax evasion in the shape of offshore companies has the people in uproar, the more crude methods, such as not declaring your assets at all or improperly declaring them, are still used widely by prominent politicians.

The Panama leaks may be more useful than initially imagined, if this flurry of recent activity over corruption is the result. It has done more than just putting world leaders on the spot; it has started a consistent conversation over financial integrity and corruption that politicians and wealthy businessmen had been trying to avoid for decades – especially in Pakistan. Is this the beginning of a more transparent era of Pakistani politics? Can we, by securing accountability for the Prime Minister, collaterally hold the parliament accountable too? The answer depends on how successfully we prosecute those found guilty.