The Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) has announced that it would not accept an inquiry commission on Panama Papers that did not include representatives of all five bar councils in the country.
Punjab Bar Council vice chairman Chaudhry Muhammad Hussain said on Wednesday that the PbBC would announce its own programme on the issue independent of the Supreme Court Bar Association. He made the announcement this after meeting a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf delegation including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Mahmoodur Rasheed, Shafqat Mahmood and Waleed Iqbal, at the PbBC’s office.
A few days ago, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) had demanded that the United Nations probe the offshore companies owned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family and mentioned in the Panama Papers.
Hussain said that the members of the SCBA were few compared to the PbBC members. He said the PbBC could provide a more effective programme in this regard. Hussain said they would call a convention of lawyers’ representatives to finalise a comprehensive line of action. The date for the convention would be announced next week.
Hussain said the leaked papers had included names of some judges and members of the legal fraternity. “Therefore it is necessary to include lawyers in the commission formed to probe the matter.”
He said they would not accept a commission on the issue without the inclusion of representatives of the Punjab Bar Council, the Sindh Bar Council, the Balochistan Bar Council, the Islamabad Bar Council and the Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Bar Council.
“We do not want to initiate a movement against the government and derail democracy…we are the ones who restored democracy by forcing a dictator to pack up and leave the country.”
On behalf of the PTI delegation, Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke to journalists after the meeting and said the meeting with the lawyers had been a fruitful one. “This is not a political matter. It is a legal and technical matter.”
He said the issue of paying taxes was involved and it was being discussed all over the world. The president of Brazil might soon be impeached, the prime minister of Iceland had already resigned and, now, it had become a defining moment for Pakistan. He said previously, at such defining moments, there had either been an imposition of martial law, the abrogation of the Constitution, or suspension of fundamental rights. It was at such points in history that lawyers had stood firm.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2016.