LAHORE: Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid has alleged that Imran Khan is taking a U-turn on the demand for a judicial commission on the Panama leaks at the behest of those who “finance” the PTI chairman’s politics.

He claimed that the terms of reference (ToRs) sent to the Chief Justice of Pakistan for the proposed commission could not be more comprehensive.

“Imran Khan is backing out of his demand for the commission for those who are bearing the expenses of his politics. They are tax evaders, owners of illegal wealth and involved in the EOBI case (in an apparent reference to Aleem Khan) and occupation of graveyard lands. They have given him (Imran Khan) a new ‘purchee’ — don’t accept the commission for it will expose them too,” Mr Rashid said at a press conference here on Sunday.

PM’s special assistant Barrister Zafarullah also accompanied the minister to explain to journalists technical aspects of the ToRs.

Mr Rashid said the PTI chief could not even pay utility bills of his Bani Gala residence with his known sources of income, adding that the government could consider funding Mr Khan through Baitul Mal (if he agrees to say no to his financiers and accept the commission).

He termed the PTI chief’s refusal to accept the commission a moral victory of Nawaz Sharif and a stamp on the honesty of the prime minister. “Had the Sharifs committed any offence they would not have formed the commission.”

The minister recalled that the PTI chief had demanded a judicial commission to probe the Panama leaks and was the first person to announce that accountability be started with him, but after the panel was constituted he (Imran Khan) had changed his stance.

Mr Rashid dared the PTI chief to accept the challenge like the prime minister and announce that if the commission found any corruption of his or his colleagues he would retire from the politics.

He said Prime Minister Sharif had faced accountability thrice and was never found involved in any wrongdoings, but Imran Khan would have to pass through the sieve of accountability for the first time.

“Now, Imran will not be allowed to flee. You are yet to respond to the allegations of misuse of donations in a case lying with the Election Commission and a court. It was filed by none other than workers of the PTI.”

Turning his guns towards Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, who is also opposing the commission, the minister said if Nawaz Sharif was not honest, why the PPP leader had invited him to lead the movement for restoration of democracy. He also reminded the PPP senator that the judiciary was the same for the restoration of which Mr Ahsan, along with Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif and the nation, had been struggling against the Musharraf regime.

Barrister Zafarullah denied reports that the proposed commission would be powerless and said it had the powers to summon anyone from a peon to the president to seek documents even if it had to break open locks of any building. It can seek assistance of any national or international expert.

He also rejected a perception that the commission could not get information from abroad and said that under a mutual legal assistance with various states it directly or through government’s institutions like FIA could get the required information from abroad.

Barrister Zafarullah clarified that it would not be a three-judge commission and said it was up to the CJP to decide whether he wanted it a one-judge or 17-judge (full strength of the Supreme Court) inquiry panel.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2016

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