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Are agencies tasked with probing PM up to the task?

Updated Apr 21, 2017 08:11am

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─ Reuters/File
─ Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court’s long-awaited verdict on the Panama Papers case has ordered a multi-agency probe against the incumbent prime minister.

But apart from the two intelligence agencies, all the other institutions concerned have already shown an unwillingness to investigate the matter in the past.

In its judgement, the SC directed the heads of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) to nominate representatives to probe whether the prime minister and his family had members had accumulated assets beyond their known sources of income.

The heads of all these institutions, however, have already told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament that an investigation into the Panamagate case was beyond the scope of their powers.


NAB, FIA, SBP and SECP heads have already told PAC they can’t investigate the matter


The NAB chairman, FIA director general, SBP governor and the SECP chairman openly expressed their helplessness before the committee when they were invited by PAC Chairman Syed Khursheed Shah, saying that restrictions in their respective laws did not allow them to investigate the allegations contained in the Panama Papers.

At the time, NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry was of the view that the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) empowered the bureau to arrest any suspect on charges of corruption, but practically, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was proceeding against those who had been named in the Panama Papers under the Code of Civil Procedure.

If FBR detected an offence that may fall in the domain of criminal proceedings, NAB would charge that person and deal with them in accordance with the law, he had said.

Since the scam is based on leaks and not on tangible evidence, the chairman’s stance was that NAB cannot take action against those named in the documents.

FIA DG Amlish Khan also expressed his helplessness to conduct a probe into the matter, since it was related to tax-evasion.

With regards to allegations of money laundering, the FIA chief was of the view that the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) was introduced in 2010 and that the alleged transactions were made before its promulgation.

FIA, he said, lacked the jurisdiction to investigate public office holders as the law only allowed the agency to investigate matters related to government servants.

SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi claimed that the finance ministry had asked them to investigate the Panama Papers on April 29. The commission had established that 155 persons named in the papers were associated with 36 registered companies in Pakistan, but Mr Hijazi expressed his helplessness to investigate the allegations, saying that since the individuals might have invested in offshore companies in a personal capacity, the SECP cannot probe such transactions.

SBP Governor Ashraf Wathra also stated that the central bank could not investigate such matters, since it could only trace suspicious transactions made through banking channels and forward its reports to the agencies investigating the case.

PML-N MNA Pervaiz Malik, who is also a member of the PAC, told Dawn that since the JIT had been ordered to investigate, it therefore had to proceed in accordance with the court’s directions.

PTI MNA Dr Arif Alvi, another PAC member, was less hopeful. He said that the attitude of the heads of investigation agencies and relevant departments appeared to be “casual” when they appeared before the committee.

Now, he said, the apex court had chalked out a road-map for investigation agencies and framed certain questions which the proposed JIT would place before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his sons Hassan and Hussain.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2017

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Comments (20) Closed



Baig Apr 21, 2017 08:26am

So we are expecting that the then out of their jurisdiction matters will miraculously come under the purview of these agencies now?

Sajjad kamran Apr 21, 2017 08:42am

When you wish to delay a matter or do not wish to conclude it, for whatever reason, refer this matter to a Committee or a Commission.

This is what has precisely happened here.

Muhammad Apr 21, 2017 08:45am

People say the SC made a bold decision. I find it quite strange that SC declares PM

Cyrus Apr 21, 2017 08:58am

Rubik's cube

MUHAMMAD FAHEEM KHAN Apr 21, 2017 09:06am

then only MI and ISI remains, let them probe it. We trust them to do this job.

anees zed Apr 21, 2017 10:06am

I don't know what shall I expect.

Khanm Apr 21, 2017 10:13am

@anees zed nothing unless we do something and put the honest people for the job...

optimist rajput Apr 21, 2017 10:28am

All i can say is that, only institution which is loyal to Pakistan is Pak Army.

The end is near Apr 21, 2017 10:54am

Nothing will happen. JIT is a drama that will drag the case into 2018 until the election day. PMLN celebrated Panama leaks verdict yedterday and also distributed sweets for a very good reason.

Fazeel MEhboob Apr 21, 2017 10:56am

We are hopeful for the better Pakistan... I can see the destination very near..

Inam suri Apr 21, 2017 11:59am

An old saying becomes excessively relevant "Set a thief to catch a thief"

Abdullah Apr 21, 2017 12:38pm

...The very same judges took this case up because the agencies failed to take action...& knowingly now the f asking same agencies to take over....model of insanety . ...

Khalid Apr 21, 2017 01:26pm

Senior management of every single agency mentioned has been "selected" by the two brothers and their friends and family. How can they say anything against their masters?.

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Apr 21, 2017 02:05pm

These so-called agencies can never work independently, fairly and effectively in any type and all types of probes against a sitting Prime Minister in any South Asian nation and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not an exception in this case.

ft Apr 21, 2017 03:34pm

It's a joke.

Berni Apr 21, 2017 03:37pm

The only democratic way to oust a democratic premier is through a no-confidence vote. Imran Khan and others are disrupting the social order and only deserve a curse. Nawaz Sharif may have been like IK in the past but his stand is very sound: investigate, make laws and eradicate corruption, not the corrupt. The opposition is going to create a lot of trouble and cost the national economy losses of billions but it is bound to fail like before, nevertheless.

Iqbal HADI ZAIDI Apr 21, 2017 03:49pm

What deters us not to engage Scotland Yard of UK instead of our own JIT to know nothing but the whole truth? I think Imran, Rasheed, Siraj and others in opposition will not object if SY is given the task to do the needful. Iqbal Hadi Zaidi / Kuwait / zaidi.formerdiplomat@hotmail.com

ISHRAT SALIM Apr 21, 2017 04:00pm

@Berni who will investigate, make laws etc; investigative institutions are under the PM, to make laws need majority in the NA which PML N has, so you think all this is possible under the present circumstances ? Think before you comment.

M.Saeed Apr 21, 2017 04:23pm

If these agencies were anything worth the name, they should have stopped the trail much before being even formed.

Nasir London Apr 22, 2017 01:34pm

@Khanm Where do you find honest people to do the job? Any suggestions please?