Govt, Opp agree on 12-member body for ToRs


Panama Papers Leaks

Imran warns govt of street protests

Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad—The federal government and the opposition have agreed to form a 12 member committee to draft consensus Terms of Reference (ToRs) for an inquiry commission, to probe the revelations made by Panama papers.
“Government will name six legislators while the opposition will name another six to form the parliamentary committee, a motion will be passed on Thursday in the National Assembly to legalize the committee’s status,” Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed told media after meeting the opposition members.
Information Minister said the members of the committee can be named from both the houses of parliament.
Answering a question, he said that the committee will suggest measures to investigate allegations related to Panama papers and to develop a system which paves way to probe those involved in receiving kick backs, illegal loan-write offs.
Rasheed said that the committee will present its report in two weeks.
It is pertinent to note here that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during his speech in National Assembly on Monday, had suggested forming a joint committee to draft the TORs for establishing the inquiry commission to probe allegations related to Panama Papers revelations.
The prime minister had said that he wants investigation against all kind of corrupt people and practices, including those who took kick-backs and got their loans written off.
Taking the floor, Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Imran Khan said his party did not want point scoring on the Panama matter but mobilization against corruption will help secure a bright future for the country. He again warned that his party will take to streets if investigations into offshore companies of the family of prime minister were not carried out in fair manner.
Imran Khan said it is the opposition’s role to keep the government in check, and criticize it when it deviates from democratic norms.
“It was a unanimous decision of the opposition to walk out of Parliament if the premier did not address the questions we had raised,” said Imran.
“If we question you, and you are the prime minister with whom executive authority lies, you are answerable to us, instead of throwing counter allegations at us,” said Imran while criticizing the address made by the prime minister on Monday.
Referring to repeated attacks against Shaukat Khanum Hospital Imran questioned the government’s strategy of running a smear campaign against a charitable organisation which provides free cancer treatment, in the absence of government facilities.
“You are the government, you have investigative agencies under your command, if you suspect any wrongdoing in SKMCH, than you are more then welcome to investigate,” stated Imran.
The PTI chief was of the opinion that if the offshore companies connected to Nawaz’s family did not own property worth billions, then they would have been irrelevant and no issues would have been raised regarding their existence.
Imran added that he never hid any assets, including assets connected to offshore companies.
“Nawaz Sharif said he had no connection with the offshore companies. But he did have a connection, as Maryam Safdar in 2011 stated that she was his dependant, while ICIJ documents show she owned two offshore companies during that time,” said the PTI chief.
The two offshore companies owned Mayfair apartments, hence it is incorrect to say that Nawaz had no connection as he was her guardian, added Imran.
“The prime minister also stated that he paid Rs1 billion in tax for the 12 companies owned, Rs0.8 billion out of the amount was General Sales Tax (GST), which is paid by the people. How can he claim that amount as his own,” questioned Imran while agreeing with Khursheed Shah’s earlier statement.
Leader of Opposition Khursheed Shah emphasized that the matter needs to be resolved, in order to protect democratic institutions in the country. “It is in everyone’s interest to strengthen the Parliament through accountability for everyone,” stated Shah.
He reminded Nawaz that it is his obligation to safeguard every penny of the people’s money. “You are seen to be failing in your obligation.”
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said Imran Khan who himself owned offshore company is putting allegations on others. He said offshore company is offshore company whether it is in Panama or in any other country. He pointed out that he did not declare offshore company in his assets. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif”s name is not included in Panama Papers but Imran Khan is a beneficiary of an offshore company. Khawaja Asif said Imran Khan himself caused damage to the Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital by investing endowment funds abroad through a company of a member of the board of the hospital. He pointed out that these funds were destined for Pakistan. He said despite character assassination for the last many years, it is established that the people of Pakistan are with Nawaz Sharif.

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