Panamagate scandal: People may take to streets, warns Shah

Published: May 23, 2016
Khursheed Shah. PHOTO: AFP

Khursheed Shah. PHOTO: AFP

SUKKUR: Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah warned the government on Sunday that it should expect a flood of street protests if the government fails to resolve the Panama Papers issue in parliament.

The Panama Paper revealed last month that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s three children were among dozens of powerful people, who have secreted money in offshore companies.

“It is but natural for people to take to streets if the parliament fails to fulfill its purpose and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has already hinted at it,” Shah said while talking to the media in his hometown on Sunday.

Shah, who belongs to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said as a responsible opposition, they wanted to resolve this issue in parliament and to go back to the people in a respectable way.

He said a 12-member parliamentary panel had already been formed to hammer out the terms of references (ToRs) for the proposed inquiry commission. “The committee may include some of the ToRs given by the government and opposition,” he added.

He expressed fear that some elements might try to sabotage the entire process of inquiry into the scandal. “However, I hope that PM Nawaz and his ministers will develop a better strategy,” he added.

The opposition leader said once the inquiry committee completed its work then the culprits would have to face accountability no matter who they were. “The law is equal for all; no matter whether the person belongs to the government or opposition,” he said.

Reiterating the PPP’s stance, Shah said the party would never become a tool in any conspiracy against the democracy.  He obliquely referred to the PTI’s 126-day sit-in 2014 and said the PM should remember that when his game was almost over, the PPP stood by him for the sake of democracy.

However, Shah criticised the ‘anti-people’ policies of the incumbent government and said the government had done nothing for the masses and resultantly a 60 per cent cut had been observed in cotton production in Punjab.

He said investment in the country had reduced by 13 per cent when compared with the stats of 2012, adding that claims regarding bringing an end to the load shedding had also proved to be hollow slogans.

“During the PPP tenure, per unit cost of electricity was Rs27, while now its per unit cost is Rs7 only as petroleum prices were very high those days and now it is very cheap,” he added.

“These projects are not mega projects but mega corruption projects, in which billions of rupees will go down the drain like Nandipur power project,” he said.  “These coal-run power projects are best for areas like Tharparkar,” he added.

Taking jibes at country’s foreign policies, he said what he could say anything about the foreign policy when there was no foreign minister. “Though there are two foreign affairs advisers but both of them keep going against each other,” he remarked.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2016.


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