The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) accountability narrative seems to be unraveling – and the pressure is showing in the Cabinet. Heavyweight opposition leaders keep getting bail, every summary of court proceedings reads like a litany of unprofessionalism and ineptitude against the state prosecution teams. As a result, the rhetoric that sustained this crusade for so long is beginning to sound stale in the absence of any real achievements.

The latest approval of bail for Miftah Ismail and Rana Sanaullah – two prominent ministers of the previous Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) government - has bought all this pressure bearing down. Why is it that this government cannot effectively prosecute its most prioritized targets?   

In response Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) and Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi has reminded the nation – yet again – that a bail does not mean a person has been declared ‘not guilty’ in a combative press conference. That much is correct – a bail only means that an accused does not need to be behind bars during the duration of his trail. However his passionate defense of the government policy cannot hide the fact that the state opposed each bail application vehemently. Both recent bails approvals, and the others before it, attest to the fact that the prosecution teams lost all their arguments before a court of law.

The pattern is the same in each. Opposition leaders are arrested and kept in custody without charges being bought against them. In substantive hearings it emerges that the prosecution has very little evidence to back up their claims or justify the detention. In an embarrassing finale, the arrested politicians are granted bail while the court lashes the government’s ineptness.

This accountability policy not contravenes legal principles, but it damages the government’s narrative to no extent. The outcry to hold the government accountable for “false accusations” must warn the government of the shifting public mood.