Many of my countrymen are so involved in eking out a living to survive that they do not have the time to understand the enormity of events taking place within the country. Pakistanis are now standing on the verge of time and the advent of a new era, where the mighty will stand accountable and rule of law will prevail; where the meek will stop to live in fear and justice will be delivered untainted by power and corruption. And if at this point we fail the test, we will be doomed to hurtle into an abyss and be counted as a people that do not deserve peace and prosperity.

It was out of nowhere that the Panama Papers scandal erupted, turning governments around the world upside down. There was a general consensus that though names of Pakistan’s ruling family had appeared in the ‘papers’ nothing would happen to them. This notion continued to prevail, even during court proceedings against Mr. Nawaz Sharif and Family on money laundering charges, but then the unthinkable happened and the most powerful in the land were told to ‘stand and be held accountable’. Two out of the five Supreme Judges ruled that Mr. Sharif was unfit to hold office, while three members of the bench set up a Joint Investigation Team to probe into money laundering allegations so that they could pass a conclusive judgment. The JIT report left no doubts (except in the minds of the respondents and their Party loyalists) that allegations of money laundering were indeed credible. The nation now awaits the pronouncement of judgment.

The aggressive PML N mood reflected in the nauseous and undignified appearances of its ‘singing quartet’ on the rostrum outside the JIT premises and then the Apex Court, has now become somber and there is much talk of in-house change and options, in case the PM is disqualified. What can, yet, be predicted with certainty is that the Sharif name will not be delinked from PML N. There are reports that an interim Head of Executive will be sworn in from within the existing Ministers (one of who appears to have gained favour). Reports say that this interim arrangement will remain until such time that Mr. Shahbaz Sharif relinquishes as CM Punjab, hands over the provincial reins to his son, gets elected to the National Assembly and then takes over as the Prime Minister. There is, but, a spanner that could wreck this plan and that is the possibility of cracks within the PML N.

A large number of anti-Nawaz optimists are placing their bets on the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, who has distanced himself from the Party but has not resigned his membership or his portfolio. To the pragmatists, this is clever politicking indeed, wherein Chaudhry Sahib has kept his options open while retaining leverage since his departure from PML N might open doors for others to follow suit.

There is another group of optimists, who are eyeing Mr. Khosa, who left the Party some years ago and has recently claimed that a large number of Ruling Party MNAs are waiting for an adverse Supreme Court judgment to leave PML N.

My take on the current scenario is that all is not well within PML N and there is indeed a group of legislators waiting for the judges to speak. There has also been a change of perception in some die-hard Sharif supporters in the wake of the JIT Report and this change is likely to become more clear in the event of a judgment against the respondents. I am basing this observation on extensive interaction with people for whom voting for a party other than PML N was unthinkable. Hypothetically speaking, the PML-N vote bank receives a blow, who would be the beneficiary and what will the post-2018 government look like? This is indeed a conundrum, considering the current state of PTI and PPP.

If PTI wants to benefit from the scenario, it must begin its campaign for next year’s elections right now – and this campaign must start with getting credible ‘electable’ into its ranks. I have only one advice for PPP and that is to get their act together in Sindh and elsewhere. If both these parties fail to do so, then one may well see a coalition with PML N calling the shots once more.