Panama Papers: Hectic political contacts over leaks inquiry

Govt likely to announce way out for probe body after Dar meets PM today

Riazul Haq April 20, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The government and opposition have yet to come up with a way out to investigate the Panama Papers leaks as both spent Tuesday meeting members of other parties to garner support over a procedure.

The prime minister had announced to form an inquiry committee under a former judge to probe the allegations against his family following the leaks.

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However, despite passage of around two weeks, the government is still unclear in finalising mechanism of the inquiry. The opposition is also divided over the issue and is not clear whether it will be a judicial commission under the incumbent top judge or a parliamentary body that will probe the offshore accounts.

On Tuesday, Railways Minister Saad Rafique and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid met Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq.

After the meeting, the ministers told the media that they wanted to reach consensus on the person who will head the probe panel. They said government had yet to discuss the terms of reference (TORs) with the opposition.

Earlier, the ministers also met Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan leaders Awais Noorani and Pir Ijaz Hashmi.

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The government’s panel headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also met to discuss the TORs for the proposed commission.  According to sources, the committee considered putting the PTI chief Imran Khan’s hospital investment in offshore companies in the TORs to put pressure on the PTI.

It is likely that the government would announce the way out for the probe body on Wednesday (today).

Meanwhile, the PTI also held a meeting to discuss the issue at Imran’s residence in Bani Gala. Talking to reporters, PTI’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the government was confusing the whole situation.

“The government should write a letter [as a formal request] to Supreme Court’s chief justice. If he declines heading the commission then that will be considered a clear answer,” he said.

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Earlier, Qureshi also met PPP stalwarts Khursheed Shah and Aitzaz Ahsan. Both the parties agreed that a probe body led by Supreme Court’s chief justice should investigate the matter.

Shah and Aitzaz also met ANP’s Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, who also endorsed the stance to form a probe body under the incumbent top judge.

Aitzaz made it clear that the probe should start from the prime minister, his children and all the members of his extended family including nephews and nieces.  “If the CJP refuses to probe the matter then a joint parliamentary committee can do so and the TORs will be finalised for it,” Shah added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2016.

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