At the start of this week Tahir Akram, a director general at the National Database & Registration Authority (NADRA) was denied pre-arrest bail in a case of embezzlement worth millions and was promptly arrested by the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA). A few days later, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested Ayaz Ali Khan, Deputy Drugs Controller of the Punjab Health Department, for conniving with drug manufacturing companies to raise the price of products substantially.

Two high profile government officials in the space of a week – we can view this either as a victory for accountability watchdogs and law enforcement, or an indictment of them, considering how entrenched corrupt practices have become under their noses. Usually one’s viewpoint is predetermined by which side of Parliament one stands on, and in recent days this dichotomy has gotten starker.

In the middle of that fault line hovers the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and (NAB). The government and opposition have vastly contrasting views – the previous praises it when it carries out arrest like the one made this week and commends it for reducing corruption, while the opposition calls for the NAB chief to resign and Senate bodies moot the idea of disbanding it altogether. It doesn’t help that both parties look – intentionally – at two different sets of facts.

While the government is happy with rank and file busts and meta numbers of “revenue recovered”, the opposition points to controversial practices like the “voluntary return” and plea bargains, and is especially critical of the leniency shown by the accountability bodies to the ruling party.

The Supreme Court’s explicit and terse indictment of both bodies – whose heads were eviscerated in public during the recent Panama hearings – strengthens the opposition’s beliefs further. NAB and FBR will not pursue cases against the government with any real conviction, and will hamper any investigation in fact.

Perhaps a test case can decide this? It has emerged that Nawaz Sharif relaxed the moratorium on new gas connections – issued by the previous government to combat the gas shortage - to allow connections to constituencies of influential politicians; most of them his ministers or from his own party.

While the Attorney General and other accountability officials have jumped to defend the premier, saying that his office instituted the moratorium and his office reserves the right to lift it, it is the selective, preferential, and clearly nepotistic nature of these ‘allowances’ that needs to be looked at.

Will the Attorney General’s office or the NAB go for the big fish, or will they settle for the minnows?