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.
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.
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.”
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.