The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has described as ‘most unfortunate’ an attempt by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to deflect the storm brewing as a result of a worldwide tax evasion scandal by blaming the policies of previous PPP governments for his woes.
Panama Papers leaks show how some of the world’s most powerful people, including the Sharif family, have secreted their money offshore. The revelation stirred up a political storm worldwide as several governments ordered inquires while Iceland’s premier stepped down under pressure from mounting street protests.
PM Nawaz forms judicial commission to probe Panama Papers
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered a judicial inquiry into the allegations against his family on Tuesday as he claimed in a televised address that for decades his family had been targeted.
“It is a measure of the grave shock caused by the Panama Papers leaks that the prime minster instead of answering questions raised in the leaked documents has resorted to a blame-game against the PPP leaders,” PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.
The prime minister thought it fit to recall that in the era of nationalisation [initiated by the PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the early 70s] the Ittefaq foundry [the Sharif family’s business] was also nationalised and that the family received nothing in return.
“But he forgot to mention that one of the first acts of dictator [General] Ziaul Haq was to return the foundry to the Sharif family without the state being paid anything in return,” Babar said.
Imran demands immediate probe in Sharif family’s alleged offshore wealth
He said the prime minister alleged that in 1989 during the government of Benazir Bhutto their cargo ship was not allowed to offload at Karachi dockyard. “But he conveniently forgot to remember that the cargo ship Jonathan was held up by customs authorities after it was found to carry a sugar plant instead of the claimed steel scrap.”
The PPP spokesperson wondered as to what was the relationship between ZAB’s nationalisation policy and the revelations in Panama Papers. “The issues raised by the Panama Papers will not die down by laying the blame on the PPP governments. The prime minster will do well to answer the questions raised by the leaked papers instead of resorting to blame game.”
Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, meanwhile, raised objections and technical questions about the jurisdiction of the proposed judicial commission. In an official statement, the party said the prime minister has not made it clear as to who would appoint the judges – the chief justice of Pakistan or the government.
“In addition, the prime minister did not talk about the time period the commission will take to complete its task. He also did not explain about the powers of the commission and whether, it will be allowed to investigate the assets of the Sharif family within the country and abroad,” said the statement.
It said the prime minister did not give a satisfactory answer to the revelations made by Consortium of Investigative Journalists. “Major portion of his speech was based on political stories.”
Earlier, PTI’s Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the party would submit an adjournment motion in the National Assembly, seeking an exclusive discussion on the issue.
Nawaz’s son owns London apartment, offshore companies
“PTI chief Imran Khan has also decided to lead the party in the National Assembly and present PTI’s point of view [on the leaks] on the floor of the house,” he said while addressing the media.
Jamat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq said rulers were ruthless as they were stashing away national wealth abroad and at the same time have subjected the poor masses to multiple taxes. “It has been proved that the rulers have set up offshore companies to hide ill-gotten money,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2016.
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