“Across the board accountability” was the prescription read out by the Chief of Army Staff. Two days later, six serving army officials were forcibly retired, charged with corruption.

In the aftermath of the Panama Papers leaks, in which the children of the Prime Minister were revealed to be the owners of exorbitantly expensive properties in the Mayfair area of London, Mr Nawaz Sharif has been facing pressure to initiate an investigation into how the funds for these apartments were acquired. Already struggling to respond coherently and effectively to the cacophony of criticism from the opposition, he raised eyebrows again, when he was spotted recuperating from medical tests, shopping for suits and watches in Savile Row and Knightsbridge in London.

Now, after the sackings of six serving army officers, the government is being challenged to clean up house – and indeed the general public is clamouring for Mr Sharif to demonstrate that he matches the army’s resolve, and that he will start investigations on charges of corruption. Even if it means starting by laying bare his family’s present and past finances. Unfortunately, an ill-advised statement by the Prime Minister after the sackings has only stated, “We are unblemished”. It will be grossly insufficient to silence the criticism rising from the Panama Papers. If the Prime Minister continues on the stubborn path of insisting that no explanation is necessary as to how the assets of his family, revealed in Panama Papers leaks, were acquired, not only his popularity, but the stability of his government stands to suffer.

When the Chief of Army Staff’s statement about across the board accountability of corruption was issued, no one expected that the army would start with itself. No state institution is completely free of corruption, and the army is no different. Those that are using this as ammunition against the army should remember that the COAS was under no pressure to take such a step. That he took it anyways, is to be commended. The next step of achieving accountability would be to submit the yearly military budget for audit and scrutiny.

The overarching belief is that the question of the Panama Papers is not about legality, it is about ethics. If the premise of the government is built upon transparency, then the Panama Papers expose, even if not detailing anything specifically illegal, is grounds for debate, if the government is to continue to assert its moral authority to rule. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would do well not to pay heed to the soothsayings of his kitchen cabinet. Confidence in the Prime Minister and his government stands shaken. The Opposition – itself possessed of stories in ingenious schemes of corruption in the persons of many illustrious members – will only crow louder to highlight the Prime Minister and his family’s perceived sins. The only way to silence the din is to lay bare the money trail. To ignore how matters stand, would only be to the government’s own peril.