ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senior leader Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, briefing the media on Tuesday after a meeting conducted by opposition parties to decide the Terms of Reference (ToR), said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family should be the first to be probed under an inquiry commission set-up to probe Panama Papers.
“The process of accountability needs to be initiated, and the prime minister and his family should be the first to be probed by the inquiry commission set-up to investigate the Panama Papers,” said Ahsan.
"In our earlier meeting, it was decided by all opposition parties that the ToRs presented earlier by the government were unacceptable."
Regarding the formation of an inquiry commission, Ahsan said a special act would be drafted, the Panama Papers Inquiry and Trial Act, under which the inquiry commission would be formed ─ under the supervision of the chief justice ─ to investigate the prime minister and his family in three months.
The prime minister and his family should be probed in an international investigation in to the matter, stated the PPP leader.
He added that all foreign assets, how they were obtained, how much tax was paid, which year they were bought in and what funds were used in their purchase needs to be investigated.
All opposition parties have rejected the ToRs announced by the government, but only the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has threatened to resort to “street agitation” if ToRs were not finalised in consultation with opposition parties.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan had unilaterally announced holding a long march towards the Raiwind residence of the Sharifs, but later the party put the plan on hold after getting a cold response from other opposition parties.
Similarly, the PTI’s call for resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to face the inquiry into the allegations of money-laundering and tax evasion in the wake of Panama Papers leaks has also not been given serious consideration by a number of other opposition parties, including the PML-Q and ANP.
The main points included in the ToR's finalised by opposition parties are mentioned below:
- Whether a respondent, by concealing the ownership and source of income through which the properties were purchased has committed corrupt and illegal practices under the elections/tax laws.
- A special law titled “Panama Papers (inquiry and Trial) Act 2016” should be passed to facilitate the investigation into the assets, both foreign and domestic, of the prime minister. The law shall be formed with the consensus of the opposition parties.
- A special commission should be formed, headed by Chief Justice and comprising two other SC judges nominated by him.
- It shall be the critical duty of the commission to verify the money trail which provided funds for such offshore companies.
- The government and all its related agencies and organisations like NAB, FIA, IB, SBP and SECP shall extend all cooperation and assistance necessary to the commission and shall comply with its directions
- The procedure of the inquiry shall be fully inquisitorial in character The commission should complete its inquiry in relation to the prime minister and his family in three months.
The PPP so far seems to be unclear on the resignation issue after the Saturday’s speech of its chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at a public meeting in Azad Kashmir in which he asked the prime minister to step down to face the inquiry.
The opposition parties oppose the constitution of the judicial commission under the 1956 Act and want a new legislation to empower the commission believing that all commissions set up under this act in the past have failed to meet expectations and their reports have never been made public or acted upon.
They also want the commission to first probe allegations of “money laundering and tax evasion” against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and members of his family before investigating over 200 other Pakistanis named in the Panama Papers.