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LAHORE: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has supported Nawaz Sharif’s demand for setting up a national commission on his statement regarding Mumbai attacks but the opposition has rejected it while questioning its timing.

The demand, the opposition believes, is a ploy to damage the Panama case verdict.

Supporting the disqualified prime minister’s suggestion, Mr Abbasi said in the National Assembly on Tuesday that parliament, if so desires, could form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to dig deep into the issue.

Both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) assert that the demand is being made “to sabotage” the likely verdict in the Panama case.

“The PTI rejects Nawaz’s demand for instituting the commission as it’s aimed at diverting public attention from Panama case verdict due within a couple of weeks…He’s enacting a drama to prevent punishment in the case,” party spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said here on Tuesday.

“Why didn’t Nawaz himself set up the commission when he was the prime minister,” he asked? “By initiating the debate now Nawaz has acted like an enemy of the country,” he said.

The PTI was dissatisfied with the National Security Committee’s declaration on the issue. Mr Sharif has called it “painful” and “regrettable”. The NSC comprising top civil and military leadership had met on the request of the army on Monday with Prime Minister Abbasi in the chair and dismissed Nawaz Sharif’s claim as “fallacious, misleading and incorrect”.

“Just rejecting the statement [of Nawaz] is not enough [to control the damage]. Rather the committee should meet again and take direct action [against the ex-premier],” demanded Mr Chaudhry who said the statement was a conspiracy against the state institutions as Nawaz said what India had been blaming Pakistan for.

The PTI leaders criticised premier Abbasi for clarifying the statement on behalf of Nawaz and thus proving to be more loyal to Jati Umra (Sharif’s palatial residence in Lahore suburbs) than the homeland.

He claimed that even PML-N workers were annoyed with the party’s supreme leader on the statement.

PPP senior vice-president Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo said through the statement and the subsequent demand for setting up the commission, Nawaz had attempted to take two advantages: First, to give the impression that his likely conviction in corruption references is actually forced by the establishment for opposing its alleged support for non-state actors and second, to win sympathies of the international forces by pretending that he was serious in action against the non-state actors but the establishment didn’t allow him to do so, he said.

Replying to a query about PM Abbasi’s offer to set up a commission, he said parliament should form such a body only if the PPP, the PTI and other stakeholders supported the suggestion.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018