As expected, the ball is back in the court of prime minister, and we arrive back at square one. The Chief Justice of Pakistan has refused to form a ‘toothless’ commission with vague terms of reference to probe an indefinite number of individuals over infinite period of time. Instead, the Chief Justice has suggested the government to reconsider the legislation to empower the commission and provide the precise names of individuals and companies to probe. Keeping in mind contradictory statements of his family members, would it be possible for our prime minister to form such a commission is yet to be seen. Legendary Chinese philosopher and writer Lao-Tzu says, “Who amasses too much bears heavy losses.” Before putting on the cloak of a politician Nawaz Sharif was a businessman. Once in power corridors, financial growth of his businesses has been phenomenal. Over the decades he has accumulated too much, which is allegedly stashed in different continents. Ironically, he is the premier of a nation that needs investment to get it out of its present economic slump. Contradictory trajectories are bound to cross each other at some point, and that point has arrived in the disguise of the Panama leaks. Sharif is the most experienced and the luckiest prime minister the nation has ever had. Heavens have showered kindness and mercy on him again and again. However, his luck is running out, and we are witnessing the second part of an era that would be termed as ‘rise and fall of Nawaz Sharif’ in history books. Now it is the war of survival with at least two objectives: keeping the riches invested abroad safe and making Maryam Safdar a prime minister in future. In early days of his third term Sharif was reported to be ‘bored’ in the Prime Minister House. It was even reported that he did not wish to be the prime minister in the first place. But then he found some utility of his third term — to promote Maryam as the avatar of Benazir Bhutto and train her as a future prime minister. Since then Sharif family ceased to cherish shared objectives. The Panama leaks came as a thunder from the blue at a moment when he had started to dream a renewed mandate in 2018. His initial response was a panicked one. Then he went to London and the nation was told that he needed urgent medical treatment. During that stay, damage assessment was done and a multidimensional defence strategy was formulated. In his state address on April 22, he preferred to look as a billionaire who also happened to be a prime minister, fully determined to defend every penny of his wealth. He asked the Chief Justice of Pakistan to form a commission to probe the Panama leaks and lot more. This address was made on Friday evening, and the following day the Chief Justice was scheduled to leave for a seven-day visit to Turkey. To delay as much as possible is the very first pillar of Sharif’s strategy. Mid-May we stand exactly where we stood on April 3 when the first episode of the Panama Papers was leaked. The second part of Sharif’s strategy involves distraction and infusing confusion, and hence the usage of vituperative language by the PML-N leaders and revival of the decades old mantra that ‘democracy is in danger’. Revelations of offshore assets are projected as a conspiracy against Nawaz Sharif, who stands for democracy and development of Pakistan, and as a turf war where military wants more control over the affairs of the state. The third dimension of Sharif’s policy requires that he present himself as the promised messiah for the nation. Taxpayers’ money is generously spent for his image-building through massive advertisement. While addressing public gatherings he announces glitzy projects and makes every promise that comes in his mind. If he survives the fall from the Panama scandal, these promises would go to the trash bin. In the other case, these speeches could be used in future to remind people that Pakistan was about to be a developed nation when he was ousted from power. To rule, our leaders ask people for votes and beg international power players for support. On the fourth side, SOS messages must have been sent to international masters. Few signs of foreign assistance are perceptible. In the near future, some events may eclipse the revelations of the Panama leaks and we may have no choice but to postpone the accountability issue. In this perspective, the delay of a single day becomes significant. If everything fails and history repeats itself, it would be more beneficial to be a political martyr than an impeached prime minister. Just imagine, a few years later, in an election campaign Maryam telling people, “My father had not yet seen the marriages of his grandchildren when he was ousted of the prime minister house.” She would go to people as a sister awaiting justice. Our memories are short and, traditionally, we do not let a sister or daughter return empty-handed. Thus sooner or later she will be the prime minister of Pakistan. We would remember the year 2016 as a ‘year of leaks’. We are being told that even people like Imran Khan and Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan have had offshore companies in the past. In the last five years, Pakistanis have invested AED 30.64 billion in Dubai and are considered among top three investors. These days we are learning about those Pakistanis who own properties in Dubai but have not declared in their tax returns. In the days to come more leaks are likely to follow. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures, and thus economic emergency should have been imposed. The real issue today is not the resignation of Nawaz Sharif but impartial and across the board accountability. By now NAB and FIA should have been working overtime. Ideally, the prime minister of Pakistan should be leading the war against corruption and tax evasion, but that is not happening. Rather he is standing on the top of a dysfunctional system and brandishing the flag of democracy. Unlike his previous terms, heavens have put him on the wrong side as the last obstacle on the way of accountability. He may win at the end, but it would be a personal victory.