Panama Leaks probe: Write letter to top judge, opposition asks government

Shah tells Dar in case CJP turns down request, parliamentary probe be instituted



The opposition on Wednesday formally asked the government to request the Chief Justice of Pakistan to probe the Panama Leaks under a judicial commission or to form a parliamentary committee in the event the top judge refuses.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah called Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday and asked him to write a letter requesting CJP Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali to probe the matter with a “forensic audit” by a reputable international firm.

In the event the CJP refuses to entertain the government’s request, Shah urged Dar to constitute a parliamentary committee to probe the matter.

Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Saeed Ghani told The Express Tribune that Shah conveyed the opposition’s concerns to the government in his 20 minute-long telephonic conversation with Dar.

During the conversation, Dar told Shah that the government will consult leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz over the proposals and will then inform the opposition parties.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced to form an inquiry committee under a retired judge to probe the Panama Leaks which had named over 200 Pakistanis – including three scions of Nawaz – who had used Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to own offshore companies to stash their wealth in tax havens.

The government has yet to formally request the apex court to lead the probe since it has yet to finalise a mechanism for the inquiry.

However, sources in the ruling party disclosed to The Express Tribune that the government is willing to write to the chief justice once it completes consultations with party leaders, most of who are in favour of this move.

A senior PML-N leader said that the party is due to convene today (Thursday) after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan returns from the US and deliberate over the proposal.

PPP continues consultations

A PPP parliamentary committee continued to meet with other political parties on Wednesday to muster support for their proposal.

A delegation led by Shah met with Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chief Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao at his residence. Shah managed to convince Sherpao on the government writing a letter to CJP to probe the matter.

Later, Shah also called senior Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Dr Farooq Sattar seeking their support on his proposal. They agreed to formally meet on Monday.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also met with the committee which apprised him of the progress made in the consultative process.

Bilawal emphasised on the need of a probe into the leaks through a parliamentary forum and with the consent of all political parties. He further stressed that the terms of reference (ToRs) for the probe should also be determined by parliament after due debate among all political parties.

SCBA to share proposed ToR draft with govt

Supreme Court Bar Association will share a draft of the ToRs for the proposed probe with the government today (Thursday), the association’s President Ali Zafar told The Express Tribune. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2016.