Amid the controversy surrounding Panama leaks, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar has said it will not be appropriate for the prime minister to nominate a commission and decide its terms of reference as his own family is facing the allegations.
Speaking in the upper house of parliament on Tuesday, the lawmaker said a parliamentary commission should be set up with powers to identify and acquire the services of forensic experts knowledgeable in white collar crimes.
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Mir Hasil Bizenjo cautioned that despite the ongoing controversy, the system “should not be wrapped up on the basis of Panama Papers”.
He said there was disconnect between the parliamentarians and the masses. “We have to win their confidence so that they stand against military interventions,” he added.
Lamenting the previous acts, Senator Babar suggested holding talks with the security establishment to address each other’s concerns. “Let’s ask them to sit together across the table and address concerns of each other… lets have face-to-face discussions behind closed doors,” he said.
During a debate on implications of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s departure from the country, the PPP stalwart also proposed the formation of a parliamentary committee with the sole task of addressing the divide between state institutions.
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Babar said the former president’s exit underscored a new political statement that “a military dictator can subvert the constitution and escape treason trial even if parliament and the courts have so demanded”.
All past military interventions, he added, were endorsed by PCO judges and by a handpicked parliament.
“This new disturbing political statement that no dictator in the future can be tried under Article 6 must not be allowed to gain roots,” he said.
Talking about the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s sit-in of 2014, Babar said the protest de-legitimised the civilian government and parliament. “Whether or not it was planned and orchestrated, the net effect was the Dharna made the civilian set-up vulnerable and too weak to pursue the treason trial,” he added.
During the debate, members from all political parties expressed their views with some suggesting the government has simply returned the favour Musharraf offered to the PML-N leadership and nothing more. However, there were some members who held the judiciary responsible.
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“In my opinion, the superior judiciary is responsible,” Senator Usman Kakar said. He added the PTI sit-in had actually succeeded in achieving its target: weakening the government.
PTI’s Mohsin Aziz, however, held the government responsible and rejected the argument that his party’s sit-in was responsible for every ill in the country.
As some members suggested there was no need of Article 6 in the Constitution, PML-N’s Nihal Hashmi said Musharraf had actually fled because of it.
But, he added, the “judiciary should not be treated as a sacred cow since it did not hesitate in sending an elected prime minister packing” but this was not the case regarding Musharraf.
PPP’s Babar Awan also put the entire blame of the military ruler’s exit on the ruling party, saying “the government has returned Musharraf a favour and nothing more”.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2016.