Amid crescendoing calls for an inquiry into the offshore companies of the ruling Sharif family, the federal interior minister has called for ‘accountability of all political parties’ parallel with investigation into the revelations made in the Panama Papers.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan didn’t stop here. He went a step further to propose an ‘ethics committee’ to hold public representatives accountable. “First of all, I offer myself up for accountability,” he said while speaking to journalists at the Punjab House on Monday.
In the same vein, he called upon all MPs to voluntarily present themselves for accountability. All MPs should disclose their current assets and what they had before their election to parliament, he added.
Nisar’s media talk came a day after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down as he has “lost the moral authority to stay in power” as his immediate family, according to Panama leaks, has secreted money offshore.
On Saturday, Nisar offered Imran an FIA-led inquiry into the Panama Papers revelations about the Sharif family. The PTI chief instead proposed a probe by former Intelligence Bureau (IB) head – a demand turned down by the interior minister in his Monday’s presser. “Dr Shoaib Suddle is not part of the FIA,” he said referring to the ex-IB chief.
Nisar insisted the FIA was capable of investigating the matter as the authority has competent officers for such probes. He reiterated his offer to Imran to name an FIA officer of his choosing for the inquiry.
The interior minister said it was necessary to take the issue to its ‘logical conclusion’ for the awareness of Pakistani nation. “But heaping allegations [on the Sharif family] will not serve any purpose,” he said. “One should also avoid staging Dharnas and hurling threats,” he said referring to Imran’s threat that his supporters would stage a sit-in outside the Sharif family house in Raiwind, on the edge of Lahore.
Aitzaz Ahsan, the leader of the opposition in the Senate, used the Panama leaks to reprimand the ruling party in a joint session of parliament earlier in the day. “He should have opened his speech by mentioning Surrey palace, and not Mayfair flats,” Nisar said.
Former premier Benazir Bhutto had bought The Rockwood Estate in Surrey with her husband Asif Zardari in 1995, though they continuously denied ownership of the expensive property. Mayfair flats in London belong to the Sharif family. “Nawaz Sharif never kept the property secret as Benazir Bhutto had met him several times in the same flats,” Nisar said.
Imran Khan’s party plans to celebrate PTI’s foundation day at F-9 Park in Islamabad where he is also scheduled to spell out his party’s course of action on the Panama leaks scandal. The interior minister, however, reiterated that permission would not be allowed for a public gathering either at F-9 Park or at D-Chowk.
“F-9 Park, also known as Fatima Jinnah Park, is situated in the heart of the capital. It is a recreational facility for citizens,” he added. “Political gatherings can be held anywhere in the country – not just in Islamabad.”
However, he said the PTI could be given permission to stage its political gathering anywhere in the capital other than D-Chowk and F-9 Park only if the party guaranteed that its supporters would not go beyond a point to be specified by the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2016.
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