ISLAMABAD: PPP Senator Dr Babar Awan has suggested investigation against the people named in the Panama Papers through military courts, arguing that offshore investments were usually used in drugs which had a close nexus with terrorism.
“Investment in offshore tax havens is an international fraud that comes under the definition of facilitator,” Dr Awan said while talking to reporters at the Supreme Court building here on Thursday.
If sending the Panama leak cases to the military courts is not possible, he said, then a judicial commission headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan should be appointed with a single term of reference (ToR) requiring to disqualify all those lawmakers, who had failed to declare their assets before the Election Commission, for not being righteous, sagacious and ameen under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.
He said the proposed commission should issue red warrants through Interpol against the people who were involved in offshore investments but refused to surrender, as well as well those with dual nationalities.
About the ongoing debate in the Senate that a house standing committee should investigate the Panama leaks, Dr Awan said he would oppose the idea unless the entire Senate was declared a full house committee under the media glare with the same ToR he had suggested.
“I intend to write a letter to Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani for declaring the Senate a full house committee to probe the leaks scandal,” he said, adding that the people whose names appeared in the Panama Papers should be arrested unless they obtained bail.
Citing Section 177 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Dr Awan said any Pakistani who had committed an offence outside the country could be booked in a case inside the country.
“Every cognisable offence has a starting point which is Section 15 of the PPC which then is followed by investigations,” he said but regretted that in the Panama leaks issue the government was going against the tide as they were talking about appointing a commission before first getting FIRs registered.
Asked if any FIR had been registered in Pakistan for a crime committed outside the country, the PPP senator said former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and former president Asif Ali Zardari had been prosecuted by the “Saifur Rehman-led Ehtesab Commission” over the charges of laundering money abroad. First an FIR was registered against them in Pakistan and then investigations were done, he added.
Similarly, he said, MQM leader Dr Imran Farooq was killed in London, but the FIR was registered in Pakistan. And the most recent being the Pathankot terrorist attack which took place in India, but the FIR was registered in Gujranwala, Pakistan.
“Why the law is not being applied equally against all those who have made investments in offshore companies? Why courts which claim to be the custodian of the constitution as well as accountability institutions kept quiet?” Dr Awan asked.
He said it was high time for the people in authority to take action against those involved in the offshore controversy.
Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2016