Too much attention has been paid to the government response to the Panama papers – and in an obvious way it should be. The government response has been dissected, analysed and criticised by a zealous media and speculation has been allowed to run rampant. Yet on Monday when the Prime Minister took the floor of an august house of parliament – an event that was billed to be a definitive showdown of the whole saga – the opposition stayed silent and walked out of the parliament. It seems that after making such a clamour to get the Prime Minister into the Parliament to answer questions, the opposition wasted everyone’s time by taking the issue outside it again.

Perhaps it is time the opposition’s role in this controversy be analysed more critically too – after all it is a crucial part of the dialectic argument that is the basis of a functional government. Monday’s session should have been a responsible opposition’s dream; an embattled Prime Minister on the dock, and a hungry opposition waiting to tear his inconsistencies apart. There were plenty of those. The premier sidestepped the issue of his children’s off-shore companies, and the explanation of his family business did not complete account for his RS2 billion valuation. Instead of calling them out in front of the nation, the opposition decided to walk out – and for once we can sympathise with the disappointed looking premier; what more can he do.

Nawaz Sharif may not be completely honest but at least he has presented himself for accountability time and again. If there was a disagreement on the TORs, and open debate on the floor of the parliament was the best place to hash it out or at least set down some markers for future negotiation. It is important to mention – lest it be forgotten – that the opposition has some things to hide too. Imran Khan, Rehman Malik, Jehangir Tareen amongst others will all have to answer for their transgression – this silent departure maybe serves them as much as the government.

The opposition got what it wanted in a sense, a belligerent Prime Minister was dragged back to the parliament to answer to the opposition – a symbolic victory in many eyes. Yet this posturing and counter posturing being practiced by both sides is taking us nowhere. Nawaz is in election mode and the opposition back in the 90s – now is not the time for symbolic gestures, it’s time for cold hard words. Formulate the TORs, formulate two judicial commissions to work simultaneously if need be, and get this investigation of the ground – the nation has waited enough.