It was inevitable; the pressure was building and the excuses running out. At long last the government agreed to form a judicial commission under the Chief Justice of Pakistan to probe the allegation leveled against the Prime Minister in the wake of the Panama leaks. The opposition gets what it wants and the inquiry can finally begin, even if it is too little too late. For the second time in this term the Prime Minister promised to resign if the allegations against him proved to true. It is a confident move – and one that he should have taken from the start – but the prime minister’s demeanour was anything but.

The Nawaz Sharif that addressed the nation on Friday was are markedly different person from the Nawaz Sharif that took to the roof of his estate to celebrate his electoral victory even before the official results were in. Political contests with various parties have sapped the government’s strength, and the growing military presence has continued to trouble the ruling party. One would expect the incumbent to be worried in such circumstances, but the deflated and dejected show on national television goes beyond that.

Despite entrusting the judicial commission to decide the facts of the matter the Prime Minister still felt the need to defend himself – which he did by oddly narrating his past sacrifices for the country and his love for Pakistan. His heartfelt narration did little to shed light on offshore accounts and tax evasion, but presented the Prime Minister as a victim of evil, conniving forces. With a healthy dose of self-victimisation the prime minister hoped to remind the nation that he was still a patriot, but it came of as belligerent defensiveness – the kind one adopts one is wrong but still believes he is right. The fact that the rest of his speech has directed at Imran Khan and his actions does nothing to dispel this image. His faux humility isn’t cutting it anymore, maybe he needs to try contrition for a change.

The Prime Minister must remember that this investigation has a specific frame of reference. It is not out to categorise him as “good” or “bad”. His achievements as Prime Minister and sacrifices can be viewed independently of allegations of tax evasion. A person can be honest and still be a bad administrator, or be a good statesman but morally flawed. By juxtaposing the present enquiry with his past record he himself is turning the issue into a judgment over his suitability to rule. He speaks like a man who knows that he is fighting for his seat – when in reality he is still secure.