NEW YORK/ ISLAMABAD:
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that previous accountability inquiries had cleared him and his associates of any wrongdoing as his security czar hinted that a commission to investigate the Panama Papers leaks could be set up in the next 48 hours.
“By God’s grace, our hands are clean,” he said while chairing a special meeting of his cabinet at the Prime Minister’s House. “We have faced ruthless accountability in the past too, with success.”
The premier added that those trying to create instability and hinder development in the country would never succeed. “The nation is focused on economic progress and prosperity, and will not let anyone create any obstacle in the way.”
During the meeting, members of Prime Minister Nawaz’s cabinet said certain political elements were trying to divert attention away from the government’s economic agenda to create political uncertainty. They claimed that these elements were trying to sabotage development in the country.
Prime Minister Nawaz said his government had always favoured ‘values over power’, and had always taken decisions after consulting with other parties. Even so, he added, his rivals were afraid of ‘being left far behind’ if his government completed its constitutional term.
“The Pakistan of today is far better than the one three years back. The whole world acknowledges this,” he told his ministers, advisers and assistants.
Premier Nawaz said the country’s economy was at its lowest ebb when his government took over, and investors were fleeing the country. Despite this, “we completed many projects at half the cost of projected estimates were because our objective is to take the country out of the quagmire of problems it has confronted for the past many years,” he added.
The prime minister said the global community can vouch for transparency of the measures his government had taken and the mega-projects it had initiated to restore the country’s economy.
“Today we have restored the confidence of the people and the graph reflecting the hopes and aspirations of the people in their future has gone up for the first time in 15 years,” he said. He added that “the journey to bring Pakistan out of a shattered economy, darkness and ills in various sectors will continue with same vigour and zeal.”
Nisar ‘hopes’ commission will be formed in 48 hours
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Thursday said that he ‘hoped’ an announcement about the formation of the commission to investigate the Panama papers leaks might be made in the next 48 hours.
“Progress has been made towards setting up a commission to undertake the task as the government wants a transparent investigation,” he told journalists based in the United States at the New York City residence of Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s ambassador at the United Nations.
Nisar, who was closely questioned about the Panama leaks, acknowledged the delay in establishing the commission. He said the atmosphere in Pakistan had become so charged that two retired judges of the Supreme Court declined the offer to head the investigative body.
Moreover, he said, demands from parties and individuals had varied from a judicial commission to an inquiry by parliament. “But now the work had picked up pace and there will be a positive outcome.” On the other hand, Nisar said security in Pakistan had improved considerably over the past two and a half years.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2016.