ISLAMABAD: The nine-party joint opposition, which rejected the prime minister’s speech in the National Assembly on Monday outright, will meet on Tuesday morning to hammer out a future strategy over the Panamagate issue.
PTI’s parliamentary leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi told Dawn on Monday night that the combined opposition would meet at the Parliament House chamber of Leader of Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah to “dissect and analyse” the prime minister’s speech and to finalise their own response.
“The prime minister lied on the floor of the house,” Mr Qureshi said, adding that all their questions had remained unanswered.
The PTI leader said the opposition would devise a future strategy against the backdrop of the refusal by the Chief Justice of Pakistan to form a judicial commission to investigate the allegations in the Panama Papers.
Opposition to hammer out future course of action today
“We have rejected the prime minister’s speech and the chief justice has already rejected the ToR (terms of reference) prepared by the government. So we will see where do we go from here,” he said.
When asked if opposition parties would continue to boycott the assembly proceedings, Mr Qureshi said they would take a decision on the matter at Tuesday’s meeting.
On the other hand, Saeed Ghani, the PPP’s parliamentary leader in the Senate, said the opposition would continue to boycott the proceedings of the upper house over the continued absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif there. He said they had been demanding the PM’s presence in the upper house for several months.
The opposition parties had earlier met in the chamber of the Leader of Opposition in the Senate Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan to devise their strategy in response to the prime minister’s speech.
Sources said there was a consensus among the opposition parties that they would remain civil in the house and would not interrupt the proceedings, if the prime minister answered their questions.
PTI’s chief whip in the National Assembly Dr Shireen Mazari told Dawn that the combined opposition had agreed to walk out of the house in case the PM’s response was not satisfactory.
Speaking to reporters outside the Parliament House after staging a walkout from the house soon after the prime minister’s speech, PPP’s Khursheed Shah said the clarification presented before the house by the prime minister did not address any of the seven straight-forward questions posed by the combined opposition. Rather, he said, it had raised 70 more questions.
“Today’s address was broadcast live to the nation and would’ve been seen by the 200 million-something population of Pakistan; they will be the primary judge(s) of today’s event,” he said, alluding to the court of public opinion.
Aitzaz Ahsan criticised Mr Sharif for sidestepping questions, specifically those about his properties in the UK.
“I’ll show you how the prime minister was supposed to respond; this is my sales deed for my flat in the UK,” PTI Chairman Imran Khan said, pulling a document from the sheaf he had been clutching throughout.
“The PM said he brought the Mayfair properties in 2005. All he had to do was show us the deeds and the sales documents, like I have done,” said Mr Khan.
He also castigated the PM for not mentioning his daughter, Maryam Nawaz. Producing the PM’s own declaration of assets from 2011, he said Maryam had been mentioned as her father’s ‘dependant’ and she had received a gift of Rs24 million from him. The dependent owns the two offshore companies that purchased the Mayfair flats.
“Since she doesn’t have her own source of income, obviously they are the prime minister’s property,” he added.
Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2016