While the Punjab government has gotten off to a rocky start – with several ministers taking turns being embroiled in controversies – the latest case is perhaps the most mystifying of all.

Punjab Minister for Prisons Zawar Hussain visited the Kot Lakhpat Jail on Thursday in the early morning, and while there he allegedly unlocked high security barracks in a gross breach of the law; met secretly with under-trial militants of banned terrorist outfits involved in suicide attacks in Lahore, forbidding the jail superintendents from accompanying him; locked the said officials in a cell when they resisted his actions; and took a posse of six unidentified men with him wherever he went. This spree of shocking behavior broke a whole host of laws related to prison protocol and criminal law, while actively committing a few crimes of his own – such as the ‘false imprisonment’ of jail officials in a cell.

The whole episode screams impropriety and undue influence wielded by politicians over government officials. This is not the first time the Punjab cabinet has been guilty of this in its short time in charge and its inability to stop is worrying.

Impropriety however, is the least of the government’s problems here – it must explain Zawar Hissain’s actions. He spent six hours meeting with dangerous under trial militants and barred jail officials from accompanying him – the security implications of this alone merit some serious questioning.

What is more, the explanation offered by the spokesperson of the minister - that he was undertaking a “surprise inspection” - does not add up. If what he says is true, why were jail officials not allowed to accompany him, which is standard protocol? Why the civilians who came with the minister took into custody the official walkie-talkie sets from all the deputed jail employees? If this was an inspection why did he spend six hours with under-trial militants and went nowhere else? And incidentally who were the men who accompanied him?

Even if we forget all instances of undue influence, broken laws and protocols and grave security questions – which we shouldn’t at any cost – there sheer incompetence of the man should be enough to call his credentials into question – the Minister of Prisons unlocked a high security barracks, creating a serious risk for escape.

This incident needs to be explained. Thankfully the full report of the prison superintendent and the availability of CCTV footage should allow us to get to the bottom of this. If he is found to have broken the law he must be held accountable - the PTI has promised no one is above the law.