Panamagate: PM's refusal to answer 7 questions prompts opposition’s walkout

Published: May 16, 2016
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses the National Assembly on Monday. PHOTO: PID

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addresses the National Assembly on Monday. PHOTO: PID

In his first appearance in the lower house of parliament after the Panamagate scandal, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has suggested to form a parliamentary committee for finalising terms of reference (ToRs) to probe into the revelations owing to his family and others’ alleged offshore holdings.

“I would recommend formation of a committee in the house which would finalise comprehensive ToRs so that those involved in embezzlement of funds may come to the fore,” he said on Monday.

The opposition leader in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah has rejected the prime minister’s speech, saying it has created more confusions rather than replying to the seven questions jointly prepared by the opposition parties.

Opposition preps seven blunt questions for PM Nawaz over Panama leaks

Soon after his address on the floor of the house, Shah led the boycott of the session and walked out along with other parliamentarians.

Leaked documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama last month showed the premier’s three children – sons, Hassan and Hussain, and his daughter, Maryam – owned at least three offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.

Paying 10 billion taxes in 23 years

Talking about the prob body PM Nawaz said the committee would have my complete cooperation. “It can thus settle this matter once and for all.”

The prime minister also submitted tax details of his family in the house. “Our family paid Rs10 billion in taxes in the last 23 years. We sold out our factory for $9 million,” he added.

Iftikhar Chaudhry approaches ECP to seek PM’s asset details 

Loan write-off

Regarding allegations of loan write-off, the prime minister said his family paid off every single penny which was acquired through bank loans. “My father rebuilt our broken Ittefaq Foundries with our hard-work and dedication. I can say with pride that I found my family to be hard-working and dedicated.”

The prime minister did not shy away from casting jibes at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan during his address without naming him. “Those who fly around the world in helicopters and planes may also tell this house about their journey through time.”

Concrete accountability process

Earlier, the premier urged the house to introduce a thorough system of accountability so that baseless allegations against politicians may be avoided. “The parliament must ponder upon introducing a concrete system of accountability,” adding, “The house should undertake consultation, which shall plug the loopholes and refrain anyone from levelling baseless allegations against politicians.”

He went on to say, “When politicians are defamed, democracy too gets defamed. Since this matter has come to the fore, it should be resolved once and for all.”

PM Nawaz said he had been gone through several accountability processes and has come out clean. “Our hands are clean as we have always faced accountability and are still ready for any sort of accountability. We also want the reality behind those getting their loans waived off to become public.”

Targeting opposition parties

At the beginning of his address, the premier lamented the fact that he was indicted by the opposition on Panama leaks issue even before the investigation. “I am forced to say that even before the commission could conduct investigation, the government was indicted by the opposition.”

Imran’s reaction after walkout

Criticising PM Nawaz for his failure to speak the truth or respond to allegations in the backdrop of Panama Papers leaks, Imran Khan said, “According to your [Nawaz Sharif] own tax declaration of 2011, your daughter Maryam Nawaz is dependent on you and this makes you an owner of the property.”

FBR seeks clarification from Nawaz on receipts of foreign remittances from son

The PTI chairman added: “I have documents proving that Maryam Nawaz is the owner at least two offshore companies.”

Referring to the allegations of concealing assets offshore, Imran said he has brought with himself his sale-deed and other documents that he had sold the property in London, and advised the premier that he could have done the same.

PM Nawaz and his family have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying the assets mentioned in the leaked papers were legally acquired through the family’s network of businesses and industries in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
Last week, opposition lawmakers had walked out of both the Senate and the National Assembly, demanding the prime minister come to parliament to answer their questions.

Maryam Nawaz owns two offshore companies

I have documents proving Maryam Nawaz [premier’s daughter] is the owner of two offshore companies,” says Imran Khan.

Opposition to meet on Tuesday 10pm: Khursheed Shah

“The prime minister’s didn’t address in any way the questions we had posed,” says the opposition leader.”

“The speech prime minister delivered in the parliament he discussed a lot of things which even we did not discussed. But he did not answer our questions. Probably he did not even have the answers.”

“We will meet on Tuesday, 10pm  to discuss the future course of action,” added Shah.

Opposition walks out as PTV blacks out coverage of Imran Khan’s speech in National Assembly.

PM’s answers to 7 questions have raised 70 more

“We presented seven simple questions and we wanted their clarification to be that simple as well. But the prime minister has increased our questions from seven to 70,” says opposition leader Khursheed Shah.

“We thought the issue will be resolved by answering these seven questions by the prime minister. Instead of wasting time of the House by leveling counter allegations the House and the people want answers to those seven questions.”

PM proposes committee to finalise TORs to investigate Panama leaks

“I would recommend formation of a committee in the House which would finalise comprehensive ToRs.”

“So that those involved in embezzlement of funds may come to the fore. The committee will have my complete cooperation. It can thus settle this matter once and for all.”

PM Nawaz submits tax details in parliament

“Our family paid Rs10 billion in taxes in the last 23 years,” says PM. “We sold out our factory for $9 million.

Every penny returned

“We have returned every penny that we acquired through loans. My father rebuilt our broken Ittefaq Foundries with our hard-work and dedication.”

“I can say with pride that I found my family to be hard-working and dedicated. But those who fly around the world in helicopters and planes may also tell this house about their journey through time.”

‘My life an open book’

“My life is like an open book. I have nothing to hide,” says the premier.

“My family lost more than it earned. I want to tell those resorting to mud-slinging, that I provided land for several welfare projects.”

Thorough mechanism for accountability

“The parliament must ponder upon introducing a thorough system of accountability. The House should undertake consultation, which shall plug the loopholes and refrain anyone from leveling baseless allegations against politicians,” says PM.

“When politicians are defamed, democracy too gets defamed. Since this matter has come to the fore, it should be resolved once and for all.”

‘Our hands are clean’

“Our hands are clean as we have always faced accountability and are still ready for any sort of accountability. We also want the reality behind those getting their loans waived off to become become public.”

‘Indicted before investigation’

“I am forced to say that even before the commission could conduct investigation, the government was indicted by the opposition,” says the premier.

“We intend to continue the progress for the country and we want to continue this development.”

PM is addressing the National Assembly

The prime minister has arrived and is addressing the lower house of parliament.

Opposition walks out of Senate

Meanwhile, the opposition parties in the upper house of Parliament staged a walkout owing to the prime minister’s absence from the house as earlier demanded by the opposition.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Ishaq Dar Shah
    May 16, 2016 - 5:22PM

    He should have just come clean early on and made public all his wealth and then paid the charges e.g. backdated taxes + penalties to the FBR. Then he could say he has done all the legal and ethical needful to the letter of the law and requirement of his job. He would then just cruise to the next election.

    Now he has put himself in a corner is under trial by the citizens of the country and has to prove that he is innocent as his actions are of a guilty person.

    Silly, shortsighted manRecommend

  • Rehan
    May 16, 2016 - 8:08PM

    what an opposition? Big words Big promises and when it comes to question they walk out. They missed a chance once again . Now what ?? Nawaz Sharif was there they had all the chance to go trough all the seven questions. Forgive me but I get the feeling Imran really does not want to solve this to cover up his and his families back . This is what happens when one has dirt on ones on stick it becomes much more challenging pointing the finger at others.
    It seems to me that non of them understands what the Parliament is for. They rather run out and talk to the media. Very disappointing! Waist of time and energy waist of time for the Nation that has more urging issues to solve. Recommend

  • Tasadiq
    May 16, 2016 - 8:26PM

    PMLN was on cruise control to win General Election 2018.
    It now appears Imran and Company have NS on the run…

    Mr NS you were blessed by Allah the chance to go in history as a PM who was elected 3 times and left a legacy of Good Governance

    Now, history will remember you as a mere thief who was booted out 3 times when in power.Recommend

  • Atif
    May 16, 2016 - 8:47PM

    @Rehan

    No, I think it was right move. Responding to his question and asking him clarifications would have given him a space. Walk out has squeezed it further. It was not a cross question session, no matter how many question opposition would have asked, he wouldn’t have answered. The walk out has put it all back on him. Just MHO.Recommend

  • OSD
    May 16, 2016 - 9:42PM

    He has clearly answered the questions, but then again it was never about corruption. They are only out there to create a ruckus and ensure that they stay relevant. Even if it means damaging their own country.Recommend

  • H Chaudhry
    May 16, 2016 - 9:49PM

    GEt the vote of confidence and render this opposition useless for what they already are.Recommend

  • Saleem
    May 16, 2016 - 10:15PM

    Today PPP took the first step to save their brothers in corruption PML N. Imran Khan could not strike back with proof and data available to him.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    May 16, 2016 - 10:15PM

    @Ishaq Dar Shah:
    In effect, he has transformed the situation where one is presumed innocent until proven guilty to one of presumed guilty until proven innocent now !Recommend

  • H Chaudhry
    May 16, 2016 - 10:50PM

    @Tasadiq PMLN is still on cruise control to win 2018. Not only that they will win but they will win with even bigger margins including Sindh areas neighboring Punjab that were close contest in 2013. Imran has no one on the run, Imran takes one step forward and 5 backwards. He is more or less like a joke now. PMLN has pretty much quite cunningly taken the life out of opposition.Recommend

  • Frank
    May 16, 2016 - 10:53PM

    @H Chaudhry:

    Corruption is also a criminal not only a political matter. A million votes of confidence cant help Nawaz Sharif – ultimately he will have to resign and appear before the courts.Recommend

  • Parvez
    May 17, 2016 - 12:13AM

    Well done ET because you got the title spot on right……..as opposed to some major media houses that made a mess of it.Recommend

  • sabi
    May 17, 2016 - 1:39AM

    just before parliament session IK told he wanted to speak in the parliament but showed fear he wouldn’t be allowed. To his surprise he was asked for speech as much as he wanted but since he had nothing to say he ran away from parliament.
    That’s what a liar would do.Recommend

  • H Chaudhry
    May 17, 2016 - 1:50AM

    @Frank If he is proven guilty by Courts, he will need to do more than just resign, perhaps go to Jail but until something is actually PROVEN (mind you Mush 9 years and nothing was proven), he is the PM and he will not resign.Recommend

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