With the continuous arrests of prominent PML-N and PPP leaders, opposition politicians have become an endangered species. The recent arrest of Rana Sanaullah is the latest example of an opposition politician who also happened to be a vociferous critic of the government being arrested. It has drawn the wrath of Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Sharif, and has even prompted criticism from some of Rana Sanaullah’s bitterest rivals, such as Bilawal Bhutto and Asif Zardari, who have cited it as another example of political victimisation.

While this might be an antagonistic time for the opposition, it is also true that allegations under the Control of Narcotics Substances Act (1997) must be taken extremely seriously. The spread of narcotics has become a menace and crimes like the ephedrine scandal have highlighted the necessity of investigating charges of drug dealing and addiction against public figures. It is also true that Rana Sanaullah does not exactly fit the picture of an innocent political martyr. He has the reputation of a street smart and shrewd fighter- while the allegation against him of drug dealing may not have surprised many, the government’s insistence that the seasoned, polished Minister was found to have 15 kg of heroin in the trunk of his car is hard to believe of so canny an individual.

While the facts surrounding this case remain mired in ambiguity, the welcome news is that there will be accountability and the results of the investigation have promised to be presented in court. The entire opposition and television audiences will be watching to see what the details of the case are and to blow the whistle on any inaccuracies, on part of the accused and the prosecution.

Judging by the opposition’s harsh reaction towards this arrest, it does not seem as if they have high hopes of the Court’s investigation. Perhaps they still hold alive the memory of Rana Sanaullah’s previous arrest during the Musharraf years, where he was beaten and humiliated, with his hair, eyebrows and moustache forcibly shaved off. Such tactics were condemned then, and no doubt in Naya Pakistan should also not find any place. Where Rana Sanaullah himself has no faith in the Prime Minister’s Riyasat e Madina, there are tens of millions who do, and they would expect the investigation to proceed with professionalism, in order to protect the integrity of the results.