While the situation in Kashmir has become the prime focus of the government, the accountability drive, its previous prime focus, continues to ramble on in the background. Even on Kashmir Hour, an event designed to reinforce the nation’s unwavering resolve on the issue, the voices of the opposition – who also share the same stance – were missing. The reason; they continue to languish in jail awaiting trial. A moment of true solidarity, squandered once again by the government. 

As the months drag on it is becoming increasingly apparent that beyond simply keeping them in jail the government and its accountability bodies have no further plans. Case in point; the accountability court of Islamabad on Thursday extended the physical remand of former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for another 14 days, which comes after yet another extension in his remand. It is incredulous to see the government keeping him in confinement for “investigation” when they have exhausted all lines of questioning and still haven’t produced a semblance of a case. Their vague questionnaires have been answered in full, their direct interrogation has led to no progress; short of contemplating applying torture, there seems to be no reason to keep him locked up for another two weeks.    

Yet the former Prime Minister and many other opposition members are stuck in this government created limbo, where the mere act of detention is the be-all and end-all. The entire nation can see through the government’s ruse now – it is being petty and vindictive, and riding roughshod over the principles of a free and fair trial in the process.

It the government has enough evidence to convict the opposition members than it must frame charges and bring them to trial, if they cannot, they must release them immediately. Trying to punish suspects without proving their guilt is a travesty of justice.