Nawaz Sharif’s political silence over the past few months has been deafening. The man who once wore dissent on his sleeve and roared his dissatisfaction with the establishment to huge rallies of his supporters has been shying away from the public eye ever since his conviction- prompting rumours that his stint in jail has silenced him and has beaten the rebel out of him. Yesterday, however, Nawaz broke his silence, and although he made brief statements, the sparks of discontent spilled through in his remarks.

Nawaz Sharif made the obvious criticism that the leader of the opposition party makes when it is being targeted. He lambasted the arrest of his brother and the Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif and accused the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government of misusing NAB to suppress the opposition. More to the point, he demanded an investigation into the assets of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khan. In a case of fighting fire with fire, Nawaz said that Aleema Khan should be investigated for assets beyond means and prosecuted for it.

It is an accusation that seems petty but it catches PTI by the jugular due to its striking similarity to the charges brought against Nawaz’s relatives of assets beyond means, which eventually brought about his downfall. Ms Khan, a member of the board of governors of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, has been found to have properties in the UAE, for which the source behind these purchases remains unexplained. It is important to take note that this case is not as much a matter of public priority, since Aleema Khan and her brother were not in office when the properties were purchased, nor is the amount allegedly laundered as huge, as was in the Panama Case. Yet considering that Ms Khan was on the board of governors of SKMCH, and that accountability and bringing money back from abroad has consistently been one of PTI’s rallying calls, the optics of this case, especially if investigation doesn’t occur, look bad.

The PML-N has accused the several trials and convictions against its members as being “selective justice”, meaning that the purpose of these trials was not accountability but to target the party. If the government truly means to lend credibility to the conviction against Nawaz, then it should welcome this opportunity of Nawaz calling for accountability for Ms Khan and display its commitment to transparency by pursuing an investigation into these allegations.