Recently Asif Zardari, his sister and three of their main henchmen were called before the Banking Court. These fellows are not yet convicted but are accused of laundering astronomical volumes of money through hundreds of fake accounts. So were the Sharifs and they were brought before NAB Courts. Have you noticed the difference between the two appearances? For the Zardaris there was no route marked by the Police, no car lifters and no royal convoy. They were seen walking through the same entrance as every other Pakistani, whereas no ordinary Pakistani was even allowed to cross Adyala Road when the imperial Sharifs were being royally escorted to honour the NAB Court with their presence. No question of an odious crowd in the court premises except the King’s courtiers and his jesters. Why this deferential treatment for one and not the other? Do you realise how you are substantiating the Punjabi versus Sindhi ethnic privilege narrative? You will regret this insensitivity and so will we. Also, understand that by being so inept you are undermining your own writ and the authority of those who have voted for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Imran Khan and his event managers better pull up their socks and buckle up for some nasty backlash. To begin with, you are losing your moral standing with the people rapidly. An idea has been circulating among the people that PTI and PML-N are moving towards a tacit mutual understanding, that is why the recently freed Nawaz Sharif and his dubious band is unusually quiet. The other is that PTI ‘s grip over the affairs of the state in the centre and in the provinces is shaky, and decisions are still being made by PML-N proxies in the administrations. Why this deferential treatment for one and not the other? Do you realise how you are substantiating the Punjabi vs Sindhi ethnic privilege narrative? You will regret this insensitivity and so will we. Also, understand that by being so inept you are undermining your own writ and the authority of those who have voted for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf One’s hunch is that people are not convinced about the power of the judiciary to enforce the verdict against the Sharifs. They have been proven right also, as within two months the lower court released them on bail and is set to strike down their NAB convictions too, in the future probably. So the vulgar power of money, connections and obligations, wins. People had hope for PTI, but soon after they came into power, they have deflated and might collapse before the same Czars of corruption and power, against whom they campaigned so vigorously a short while ago. The problem is that the new administration continues to appear tentative and unsure of itself. It is still leaning on optics more than solid work. It does not require rocket science to be effective and look assertive. To start with, just decrease the farcical security measures from Sharif’s appearance before the Courts. Why do they need security in the first place, is it to reassure themselves because of their waning self-importance? What is the threat to them? Kill the hype of a larger than life opponent and treat him like just another convict. Loss of popular confidence in their word and capability will place PTI in the same class as those before them, in fact even worse; a poor copy. The bureaucracy’s conventional wisdom will resurface and prevail which means we should not to consider the leadership’s hot rhetoric alone. Wait for the dust and smoke to settle down to know how tall they really stand. What is way more worrisome is the changing perception of PTI, as people on the streets have started equating them with their predecessors. The writer can be reached at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, September 28th 2018.