The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has written off the formation of the Panama leaks commission as a “mere eyewash”, especially since no opposition parties were consulted on the judicial panel’s working terms.
“This is just an eyewash and a joke with the nation, aimed at burying justice and accountability,” PTI chief Imran Khan told reporters at his Bani Gala residence on Saturday.
Amid the controversy surrounding the offshore assets owned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family, the government announced on Friday a broad-based, open-ended inquiry to determine wrongdoings of all Pakistanis owning such holdings. The government has also requested the top court to form a panel of judges to investigate the Panama leaks.
Imran alleged the government did not consult political parties in framing the terms of references (ToRs) as it is not serious about the judicial probe. “The same thing happened when the commission on electoral rigging was formed,” he added, referring to the panel formed last year after his party’s months-long sit-in in Islamabad.
The PTI chief reiterated his threat of launching a protest movement against the PML-N government with a sit-in outside the Sharif family’s residential compound in Raiwind.
While giving the ultimatum, he said the deadline would end by 5pm on Sunday (today) – when the PTI is to celebrate its 20th foundation day. “I will present our future plan of action on April 24,” he added.
Responding to allegations that PTI’s sit-in last year had delayed development projects, Imran said he had demanded investigations of voting discrepancies in four constituencies.
“There would not have been any losses had the PM accepted my demand,” he said. “Was this sit-in blocking the way to Gwadar? It was in D-Chowk and who stopped them [government] from talking to the Chinese?”
The PTI chief claimed that money laundering and corruption by people like the prime minister was destroying the country, not any sit-ins.
He also objected to the vast scope of inquiry proposed under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 1956, which can also be ended any time by the government by a simple notification.
Rejecting the commission, the PTI chief put forward his own set of demands for the inquiry under the CJP, demanding the government hire an international forensic audit firm. He also called for assistance of the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, Federal Board of Revenue and others in investigations.
He added the PTI wanted “accountability to start from the prime minister and with Nawaz Sharif submitting his tax returns since 1990 before the parliament” following the example of British PM David Cameron.
Justifying his stance, Imran said starting investigations at once against over 200 people would last for years. “It should start from Nawaz Sharif since he is the PM,” he said.
After that, Imran volunteered to be the first to face investigators.
Though the PTI chairman did not demand the immediate resignation of the PM, he said Premier Nawaz had lost the moral authority to cling on to the top office.
Pervaiz hits back
Hitting back at Imran’s criticism, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said the PTI chief was hurling baseless allegations against PM Nawaz in his quest for power.
Talking to a news channel, he said the people were now used to Imran’s rants. “The masses rejected his allegations in the 2013 elections and gave their decision in favour of PML-N,” he said. “The people will reject his politics of allegations and will vote for PML-N in the next elections as well.”
Pervaiz said the judicial panel would be fully empowered and will also have authority to carry out forensic audit through an international firm.
He said earlier the PTI chief had demanded a judicial commission under the CJP, but now he had backtracked from his own words. After the commission’s investigation, the culture of hurling allegations and speaking lies would be buried forever, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2016.
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