Even as Zardari cries “character assassination” and victimisation of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), another party stalwart is involved in story that is fast becoming a source of national embarrassment. On Monday the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) formally approached the former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for information about a missing necklace — donated by the Turkish first lady — which Gilani is in possession of, and NADRA claims went missing from their stores. And while this is just a routine inquiry, two conflicting accounts presented by two former high-ranking government officials imply foul play. Yet the confusion does not end there- not only are accounts of the former NADRA chairman, Ali Arshad Hakeem, and the Yousaf Raza Gillani contradictory, they also contradict themselves. If the former Prime Minister had bought the necklace to send back to the Turkish first lady, why was it still in his possession? If the necklace and the albums documenting the auction had been sent to the PM house to be returned to Turkey – according to Mr Hakeen’s version of events – why was the necklace reported missing from a NADRA warehouse? So far the whole episode has done nothing but throw up puzzles; which are bound to be the cannon fodder for conspiracy theories that will dent the already shaky credibility of PPP.

Despite the conflicting accounts, one thing is clear; the necklace – donated by the Ms Erdogan for the relief of the 2010 flood victims, as a gesture of solidarity, friendship and empathy – is now involved in a controversy which implicates the highest government offices. It is a shame that high ranking politicians – such as Gillani himself – are being investigated for corruption while in power. His improper conduct related to a donated necklace – like a plot out of a detective novel – is a new low for the previous government. Not only is does the episode offend against international diplomatic norm, it underscores the reason why despite elements of truth in Zaradri’s defence of his party, sympathiser will be sparse. While his party has been historically victimised - Gilani’s son is still held captive by militants – it has also been involved in serious, and often blatant, financial irregularities and several corruption investigations.

Whatever the truth behind the necklace’s story may be, the episode has irrevocably damaged public perception of the government, its departments, and specifically the PPP. The facts need to be determined as quickly as possible to put this unnecessary story to bed.