One-member commission to probe Broadsheet scandal: Shibli Says govt to pursue open ballot in Senate polls

Staff Reporter

The government on Tuesday announced the formation of a one-member commission, comprising former Supreme Court judge Azmat Saeed Sheikh, that will conduct an inquiry into the Broadsheet scandal.While addressing a post-cabinet meeting press conference on Tuesday, Faraz said the committee would now be a commission constituted under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 2017.

The minister said the objective of the one-member commission was to look at every aspect and “expose the people for whom this [Broadsheet] contract was signed”. He did not provide a reason for the change in the inquiry body’s composition.
“The PTI government has nothing to do with this,” Faraz said of the Broadsheet saga, likening it to the Panama Papers leaks that led to the ouster of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister.

In the current case, he said, an arbitration court in England had given a verdict and announced an award against Pakistan.He added that in such a situation, it was the government’s duty to probe the scandal and events that cost the nation its money.

The minister said due to the persons responsible for the wrongdoings, the money stolen from Pakistan did not return to the country and instead, the government had to repay the firm because of contractual obligations.

“The time has come for everyone to find out who played what role in the economic ruin of the country [and] the network of debts that was laid,” he said, adding that all such alleged corrupt practices would become apparent in 45 days after the commission completes its probe.

Faraz regretted that corrupt elements in the past were allowed to go scot-free due to political expediency and a result, the country’s moral fabric was gradually compromised.
“We are today living in a culture in which corruption is not considered a big deal,” he said, adding that the PTI had seriously challenged this culture.
The appointment of Justice Sheikh as the head of the inquiry commission had become controversial as the opposition rejected the selection, while the government defended the move.

“We hope he will do it because we trust him and […] he is known for his name and competence,” he added. “I think he is the best man to undertake this responsibility.” Speaking about the up coming Senate elections, Faraz said the government wanted the polls to be held in a transparent manner and without horse-trading.
“It is a fact of history that in Senate elections, money is doled out and people and votes are bought … what is the use of an upper house in which people come through purchasing votes?” he said.

To accomplish transparency, Faraz said, the government wanted the elections to be held through open ballot so everyone knows “who is voting for whom”. He said the people opposing the proposed move were “forgetting that their own party [in the past] had demanded open ballot”. The minister said if needed, the government will even present a constitutional amendment in the parliament to accomplish Senate polls being held through open ballot. He noted that a government bill in this regard was already lying in the National Assembly. If it is presented, “everyone will see who opposes [the constitutional amendment] and why. They will have to tell the nation whether they support a system in which people use their votes through money,” he added.


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