KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has termed the Panama Leaks verdict a victory not of any party but of the people of Pakistan that will contribute to the elimination of corruption, strengthening of democracy and building institutions in the country.
Declaring that the PPP believes in accountability across the board, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said all cases of corruption pending in the Supreme Court, including those of dictators, should be tried and decided without any further delay.
The PPP chief, who was flanked on his left by Syed Khurshid Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan, Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Farhatullah Babar while on his right by Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, Syed Murad Ali Shah, Qamaruzzaman Kaira, Sherry Rahman and Naveed Qamar, was addressing a press conference here on Friday at Bilawal House in Clifton.
Panama case verdict termed a victory of the people of Pakistan
Quoting his mother Benazir Bhutto’s remarks who had said that a day would come when Nawaz Sharif would cry and remember her and her father, the PPP chief said: “Today is the most important day in the history of Pakistan and democracy. Today’s decision of the Supreme Court would help in eliminating corruption and further strengthen the democratic system.”
Responding to questions from the media after his brief statement, he said it was always PPP’s stand that democratic order and parliamentary system ought to be strong in the country and that the present assemblies ought to complete their tenure.
In reply to a question, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that as the follow-up of the apex court decision the PPP demanded that all should be made accountable without any discrimination and a parliamentary committee be constituted and accountability be expedited to make all accountable.
He said the PPP would consult with opposition parties to field their candidate for the office of prime minister. “We are prepared to face every situation and continue to strive for the survival of democracy. Nawaz Sharif did not pay any importance to the parliament and always ignored it.”
In reply to yet another question, he said the PPP had its own strategy regarding the Panama case that was why they did not go to court. On April 3, when Panama papers were disclosed we were the first to raise a voice by demanding that action should be taken against all those whose names were mentioned in the papers, he added.
The PPP chief said that his party didn’t believe in politics of accusations and reiterated that it wanted that all cases of accountability pending with the Supreme Court whether against Imran Khan or anyone else, should be tried and verdicts be given at the earliest. He demanded that the decisions should be announced regarding reference of Shaheed Bhutto, Asghar Khan case and other pending cases. Even if there was allegation or case against me or any other person, the law should take its course, he said.
When his attention was drawn that in Panama case the prime minister was declared ineligible for not declaring Rs200,000, the PPP chief said that he was not a lawyer; the apex court had given its verdict according to the law as such only law experts were in a position to respond to this question.
In reply to another question, the PPP chief said Article 62 and 63 were constitutional matters and only parliament could make legislation in this regard. However, he added, in his opinion these articles should be applicable to all persons.
“We have faced cases in the past and even now [we are] facing and also [will] be facing in future and [have] said had our name [been] in the Panama Papers, the decision would have been announced against us the very next day on April 4.”
Nawaz Sharif was provided ample time and opportunities to prove innocence but he failed to satisfy the court.
In reply to a question about the next general elections, he said the people would decide who to vote for. Asked about his political strategy with regard to Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan, he said: “We have our own political strategy as PPP is an ideological party and has already started [working on] its election strategy for the upcoming election and is always prepared to contest the elections.”
When asked why verdicts were announced only against elected prime ministers, the PPP chief said journalists were in a better position to respond to this question.
When his attention was drawn to the PPP’s claim that court decisions had been pronounced against Larkana only but this verdict had come against the party claiming to represent Lahore, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the decision of the apex court was in accordance with the law and the Constitution.
However, he recalled that cases were also pending against military dictators; their decisions ought to be announced at the earliest.
When asked if their party would contact Nawaz Sharif, the PPP chief said that why should his party contact him; he would do his own politics while the PPP would go according to its own strategy. He said they would soon make their election strategy public and hold public meetings across the country.
In reply to a question if they had any reservation against the National Accountability Bureau, which would file references against Nawaz Sharif and his family members, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that the cases of NAB would be tried under the supervision of the Supreme Court and his party hoped that the cases would be tried according to the law and in the given period.
Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2017