Panama leaks probe: Opposition ramps up pressure on govt

Parties to meet on May 2 to chalk out future plan, propose ToRs

Obaid Abbasi/qamar Zaman April 26, 2016


Opposition parties have decided to meet on May 2 to devise their strategy on the Panama Papers investigation a day after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) announced a countrywide campaign against corruption.

The meeting to be held in Islamabad will chalk out a joint strategy and the opposition parties will brainstorm over their own terms of references (ToRs) for the judicial commission to probe the leaks.

PM Nawaz forms judicial commission to probe Panama Papers

The date was announced by Pakistan Peoples Party’s Khursheed Shah, who leads the opposition in the National Assembly, after a meeting with PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

“Every political party has rejected the ToRs [drawn up by the government] and the response of the chief justice has yet to be seen,” Shah said while addressing the media after the meeting at Parliament House.

The opposition leader also censured the government over the vague ToRs of the Panama commission, saying “it will take over 100 years to complete the investigation” under the announced procedure.

Reiterating the opposition’s stance for an independent probe, he said the process should start from the prime minister and his family members named in the Panama leaks. “It does not mean others will be spared from accountability,” he added.

Though Qureshi said he called on the opposition leader for “being in constant contact”, sources in the PTI suggested the meeting between the two was not scheduled.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan had announced a countrywide corruption campaign on April 26 and Qureshi met with Shah to clarify it had nothing to do with the PPP.

The PTI leader said the people of Sindh had played a great role in democratic history and they were equally concerned now with Panama leaks. “It is our responsibility being a political party to mobilise the masses,” he said.

Responding to a question about communication with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Qureshi said he had conveyed his message to him through a mutual friend and had not spoken to him directly.

Addressing the ruling party, he said there were some people in the government who wanted to divide the opposition but “it is my message to them that we are on the same page”.

More meetings

A PPP delegation led by Shah also held meetings with Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid.

The leaders agreed that opposition parties should draft their own ToRs for the investigation of Panama leaks.

Elahi said his party would participate in the May 2 meeting. “Our first priority is to force the government to get the opposition’s input,” he said. “In case of resistance, the opposition will have no option but to formulate its own ToRs.”

All Pakistanis named in Panama Papers face probe

Sattar called upon the government to start negotiations with the opposition parties to devise the ToRs of the proposed commission, saying it was a bone of contention.

“It will end in a disaster if the government fails to show flexibility,” he said, warning the government would not be able to withstand the opposition’s response.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2016.


S.R.H. Hashmi | 6 years ago | Reply The parties in opposition are apparently trying to work out a common policy and to form a joint stand in their struggle against PML-N, whose TORs they have rejected. However, with the record of Peoples Party leaders being what it is, they could hardly be interested in some real accountability which, if started, could also subsequently threaten them. And that leaves only Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf which could really be serious about probing Panama Leaks. This is obviously the reason why Nawaz Sharif has singled Imran Khan for bashing and has launched a fierce verbal assault again him, with Shahbaz Sharif and some selected jokers – out of the pack of jokers that he has as his cabinet – trying to beat each other in condemning Imran Khan. At the same time, the bought out sources among the print and electronic media are also busy playing their well-paid roles.. And not satisfied with all that, Nawaz Sharif has himself started a campaign of addressing public meeting in various cities were he unabashedly tells all sorts of lies. Now, with Nawaz Sharif denying the ownership of costly property in London, and his offspring unable to have financial sources of their own at the young age they were at the time these properties were acquired, it is more than obvious that the properties would have been purchased through ill-gotten money of Nawaz Sharif. There is also the question of where did the children get the huge financial resources to start their businesses on grand scale. Imran Khan had once launched a vicious campaign against MQM and Altaf Hussain, not only in Pakistan but also in England. So, he should do the same against Sharif family and be prepared to spend some money to get documentary evidence of the London property being purchased at a time when his children were minors with no independent earnings sufficient to buy the properties, and use that evidence to launch a campaign for government’s dismissal and fresh elections. At the same time, he could petition Supreme Court to define Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution in simple, clear terms, preferably in a check-list form, and to make their application mandatory during the next elections. With massive public protests and a bit of help from Dr. Tahirul Qadri and his folowers, and the powerful sectors which might be willing to oblige in national interest, this can be made to happen. In fact, this is about the only hope. Perhaps a better crop of Parliamentarians forming the next government and opposition could have some real interest in taking measures to punish the guilty and to bring back the looted wealth. Karachi.
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