Over the past few weeks the phrase “politics of the 90s” has been thrown about a lot - usually as a warning to prevent fellow politicians from repeating past practices of pulling the rug from under one another. While it is certain that the tit-for-tat undermining of successive governments was destabilising in the 90s, the politics of that decade seem rather tame in comparison to what is happening today- the politics of compromise.

The Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) government has directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) to probe all those individuals who had their loans written off on “wrong pretexts and despite having flourishing businesses managed it because of their influence in the then governments.” Shoehorned with this order is the direction that top bureaucrats who are living beyond their means be investigated. Positive actions surely - but the motives behind them are suspect.

The initiative has been taken when the PML-N government is under pressure due to the Panama controversy; and several opposition politicians have rightly pointed out that this seems to be political witch-hunting to damage them, not a genuine attempt at cleaning up the government ranks. Even if this is political motivated prosecution - which it definitely is - the opposition members don’t have much of a moral high ground to stand on. Written-off loans, just like off-shore companies, are actions that unjustifiably enrich politicians while depriving the people of revenue, and as such must be equally investigated.

If a confrontation between the government and the opposition is what it takes to achieve a semblance of accountability, then so be it - as long as the recovered revenue is returned to the public. The politics of the 90s are a much better alternative than the politics of this decade; where compromise, and mutual support has allowed all manner of political parties to escape checks and balances.