ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in yet another address to the nation on Friday, third within as many weeks, announced that his government had decided to formally ask the Chief Justice of Pakistan to set up a judicial commission for investigations into Panama Papers leak.
In fact soon after the prime minister’s recorded speech ended on the national television, the media wing of his office released the text of the letter written by the law division to the Supreme Court registrar for the constitution of a three-member commission.
A visibly piqued prime minister spared no one while targeting his political opponents, the ‘hostile’ media, the regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf and his allies. However, he mainly lashed out at the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and its chairman Imran Khan, labelling him a power-hungry politician who was exploiting the issue of offshore companies to destabilise the country.
Once again Mr Sharif claimed that the “business concerns of my family have been an open book as evident from the tax returns which we have been paying regularly,” suggesting to the media to question those who “despite having no source of income travel on private jets”.
The prime minister also made an indirect reference to the controversial personal life of Mr Khan, saying, “the ones who are raising questions about my moral authority, courts in other countries have given decision against them”.
Supreme Court asked to form a three-member judicial body to probe Panama Papers allegations
Mr Sharif said only recently a judicial commission rejected the accusations against the PML-N about planned election rigging that they [the PTI] had hurled day in, day out from the container. He further asked if somebody would raise questions against those who due to their sit-in had caused losses worth billions of rupees to the national exchequer. They should also be asked about their role in attacking the parliament and undermining other institutions of the state, he said. “Some questions should also be asked from them, while my family is presenting itself for accountability,” said a visibly irritated prime minister. Fearing defeat in the next general elections, some were looking for excuses to create unrest in the country, he added.
Speaking to Dawn, PTI spokesperson Naeemul Haq said the prime minister spoke like the head of a political party rather than the country’s chief executive, targeting his political opponents. Rejecting terms of reference of the commission, Mr Haq said instead of defending his family, Mr Sharif should have addressed the questions which had been raised following the Panama Papers leak.
In the speech, the prime minister also referred to the controversial 17th amendment. “Question must be asked from those who passed the 17th amendment and stood by unconstitutional and illegal government of Gen Musharraf and his sacking of judges of the Supreme Court,” said the prime minister.
Ironically, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is an ally of the PML-N government at present, had voted for the 17th amendment that allowed Gen Musharraf to stay in uniform, besides indemnifying all his actions as the country’s chief executive.
Unlike his last address on April 5 in which he explained how his family business was ruined by the party of the Bhuttos from the 70s to the 90s, the prime minister made no indirect or direct reference to the PPP.
Before that the PM had made a televised speech on March 28 following the deadly terrorist attack in Lahore.
He also spent a considerable amount of time criticising certain quarters of the media for what he said, “passing verdict against my family in the background of the Panama Papers, even before setting up of a judicial commission”.
“I am not afraid of anything and have always done fearless politics. My only request to the media is that it must verify the facts before passing them on.”
In case the judicial commission found him guilty, Mr Sharif announced: “I will go home, but, the media must be careful in accusing someone.” At the same time, he appreciated the media for its fearlessness and competitiveness, which according to him was even better than that of a developed country.
Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2016