NA panel: Bill for Panama leaks probe passed

The commission, it proposes, shall have additional powers of a criminal court

Obaid Abbasi October 06, 2016
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel passed on Wednesday Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry bill, 2016 which the government introduced last month in the National Assembly to probe into the Panamagate scandal that surfaced in April this year.

The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice unanimously passed the draft bill which will now be presented in the National Assembly for final approval. The law will replace the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act of 1956.

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Minister of Law and Justice Zahid Hamid presented the bill in the committee which was presided over by Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk.

The minister said that the government had presented the bill in the National Assembly on September 3 after the cabinet approved it on August 31.

The minister said government tried to tailor the law with the consensus of the opposition, but it seemed that the opposition’s only target was the Prime Minister and not addressing other issues raised in the Panama scandal. The bill has 19 clauses.

The commission, it proposes, shall have additional powers of a criminal court, besides the authority to constitute special teams.

Terming the bill ‘balanaced’, the minister explained that the draft would empower the commission to hire the services of international experts, besides enabling it to obtain information from everyone.

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The minister insisted that the government intended to make the report public, adding that the report on this scandal would not be shelved by branding its findings ‘secret’ like Hamoodur Rehman and Abbottabad commissions’ reports.

Appreciating the lawmakers’ support for the bill, the minister said: “This commission will not only investigate the Panamagate scandal, but it will enable other future investigations.”

During the meeting, MQM lawmaker S A Iqbal Qadri suggested that officials helping the commission should at least be in grade-18 and not grade-17. The minister agreed to the change and amended the bill.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2016.



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