CJP’s right and understandable response

AFTER thorough consideration of the letter written by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the Chief Justice of Pakistan about constitution of an Inquiry Commission to look into allegations of Panama Leaks, the apex court, on Friday, politely declined to entertain the request made by the Government. The court has observed that the Commission under old Inquiry Commission Act of 1956 would be ‘toothless’ and therefore, would serve no purpose except to give bad name to judiciary.
The SC response is a clear indication that the issue would continue to linger on and, perhaps, that is what the Government wants. This was also evident from the proposed open-ended inquiry, which, according to the letter of the Supreme Court, would take years to complete and that is why it has also asked the Government to pinpoint individuals, groups, families and the companies to be probed under the Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the Commission. Self-centred interpretation of the letter notwithstanding, the fact remains the judiciary has just clarified things in the framework of the law and how the inquiry can be made more meaningful and transparent. No doubt, there is dire need to probe all those guilty of digesting national wealth and resources in any manner but the question at the moment is transfer of ill-gotten wealth abroad and its investment in offshore companies. It would be unfair to focus on the Prime Minister alone when hundreds of others have also been referred to in Panama Papers. There is no evidence that PM’s family, which is a genuine and known business family, has committed any wrong in making investment in offshore companies as per practice all over the world. If his family is to be probed just because of mentioning of its name in the list then why not to investigate others as well, who belong to different political parties and are close associates of prominent political personalities. The SC has desired framing of a particular law to make the process effective and transparent and we hope both the Government and the Opposition would engage into serious discussions and evolve consensus on the new law. The approach of the Government should be to resolve the issue at the soonest than to drag its feet, which would pollute the environment at a time when we need stability to proceed with plans for economic development.

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