Govt wanted to bring a consensus bill but opposition did not reciprocate to govt’s efforts
Islamabad—Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has stated that the Opposition parties have intended to hit the streets as they can clearly witness their dark future ahead, further adding that the accountability of those who looted the country was only possible through the Commission of Inquiry Act. He was addressing a joint news conference along with Law Minister Zahid Hamid, Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Minister for Housing Akram Khan Durrani and Minister of State for Information Technology Anusa Rehman.
Ishaq Dar said that those associated with the Opposition parties were given immunity from accountability in the bill presented by the parties and that a single person was targeted through the bill.
‘The public rejected the Opposition’s idea of hitting the streets once and will reject it again,’ Dar said. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the government laid before the National Assembly a comprehensive inquiry commission bill on Friday for across-the-board accountability in the context of the Panama leaks and other accusations.
The Minister said The Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Bill, 2016, replacing the 1956 Inquiry Commission Act, will provide for constituting an empowered commission to probe into the allegations of write-off loans, offshore companies in Panama and other countries, kickbacks, and asset-making beyond the known sources of income.
He said all the 400 accused mentioned in Panama Papers will be held accountable under the new law. A sound and empowered law has been drafted with good intentions for a national service for decades to come. Ishaq Dar said the opposition did not sit with the government’s terms of reference team although the government repeatedly contacted the National Assembly Speaker for the purpose.
He said the opposition submitted a bill on the subject to the Senate Secretariat, which, as reported in the media, is person-specific having a limited approach, which shows their irresponsible attitude in the parliament. The opposition’s bill implies that it does not want to be part of the efforts to curb corruption, but only wants to create hurdles in the way of the government’s working.
To a question, the Finance Minister said the government wanted to bring a consensus bill, but the opposition did not reciprocate to the government’s sincere efforts. However, he said the government is still pursuing reconciliatory approach on the issue, and it never closed its doors of negotiations.
He said the opposition’s negative politics based on allegations and sit-ins has already caused a heavy loss to the national economy. To a question regarding the opposition’s bill in the Senate, Ishaq Dar said if the opposition continues with its irresponsible attitude, the government will get its bill passed in a joint session of the parliament.
Ishaq Dar refuted allegations that the Pakistan Muslim League-N leadership had been named in the Panama Papers. “The PML-N leadership has not been named in Panama Papers,” he said, speaking at length about the allegations leveled against the ruling party. He accepted that the commissions on Panama Papers had taken long breaks. “Some meetings were held for the terms of reference and then there were breaks.”
He added that all commissions were based on the 1956 Inquiry Act. “All commissions including The Fall of Dhaka and Abottabad Raid commissions were made according to the same law,” he said.
Highlighting key features of the new proposed inquiry commission law, Zahid Hamid said the bill, containing all the provisions of the 1956 Act, will allow for an empowered commission in the light of the Supreme Court’s observations. He said the provincial governments will be supposed to cooperate with the commission, which could also seek assistance of the national institutions as well foreign inquiry agencies. He said the opposition’s bill submitted in the Senate is specific to only Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and his family.
Hasil Bizenjo said the opposition was divided on the issue, and it did not want to talk about the written-off bank loans.
Akram Durrani said the opposition adopted a contradictory approach on the issue.