Panama Gate and the terrorist’s last wish



Will we ever see the end of this?



I received an amusing but very profound comment from a friend on the observation of Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali on the government proposed Judicial Inquiry Commission. He said:


“A terrorist was about to be hanged for massacring scores of innocent and peaceful citizens. In keeping with the tradition he was asked his last wish. He innocently requested ‘that I should be allowed to live to the see the findings of the Panama Gate Judicial Inquiry commission”.


In his considered response to the request by the government for setting up a commission of inquiry headed by him to probe into the Panama Gate, Justice Jamali pointed out that the ToRs incorporated in the notification for the formation of the commission were so open-ended that, prima facie, it would take years for the commission to conclude its proceedings.


In my previous column (ToRs versus ToRs, May 7) I stated that the debate on the ToRs had turned into war of attrition between the government and the opposition with no end in sight. Now the CJP’s decision to throw the ball in Prime minister’s court has firmly set everything back to square one.


The opposition and the prime minister are in locked horns even after five weeks of the disclosure that prime minister and his family were involved in alleged money laundering through off shore accounts. Following Imran Khan’s confession of also setting up an off-shore company for evasion of taxes in purchase of a London flat, the situation’s murkier.
Opposition’s case is very simple. While having off shore accounts and transferring money from Pakistan is debateable, it is in any case unpardonable and criminal if taxes are not given to the state. It becomes morally more deplorable when such acts are committed by the prime minister or his family.

Panama leaks – a God given opportunity to hunt down the PM – has proven so far to be an exercise in futility – an open ended match in verbal diatribes. Even after much pressure from visible and invisible quarters and further erosion of his depleted image, PM more so on his traditional confrontationist path, seems to be determined not to give in to the hydra headed attack on him to force him to step down.


The battle of ToRs died long before its birth. However, the Opposition’s rejection of government’s terms of reference and counter-offensive by its own 15-point ToRs – has found cognizance in the Chief Justice’s response to Prime Minister’s letter requesting him for the formation of a judicial commission. The CJP has rightly observed that any commission appointed under the 1956 Act would be “toothless and useless”.


It has been rightly suggested that both the government and the Opposition should sit together to thrash out a workable and useful set of ToRs. It would also be necessary to form the commission under a new legislation and not under the 1956 Act. Another bone of contention that needs to be decided is the parameter of the inquiry – should it be specific to Prime Minister and his siblings or cover all Pakistanis, their families or companies that have off-shore accounts?


This piece was written in the aura of uncertainties. Accusations and counter-accusations by spin hyenas on both sides, legal eagles of the government were reportedly busy to draft a reply to the Chief Justice for satisfying his reservations. In some circles it is believed that it would be yet another exercise to delay the process of the accountability of the highest visibly caught in the act.


The more the search for truth is delayed, greater will be the possibility of the PM getting entrapped. It is learnt that the Army Chief General Raheel Shareef has also conveyed to the Prime Minister wider concerns for earliest resolution of the Panama Leaks issue. In the other day’s one-to-one meeting, COAS underscored the controversy’s impact on the security imperatives confronting the country. It has been speculated in the media that under the shadow of being not on the same page between civil and military leadership over the much desired Punjab operation the advice given was to get over with the Panama leaks scandal in consultation with the opposition soonest as sine quo non for national security.

Legal ground already much eroded, morally too it would be difficult to withstand the storm that is rising in its velocity worldwide. Causalities among those prime ministers/presidents that have become victim to Panama’s fallout is increasing latest being the six-month suspension of Brazilian President on charges of corruption. British Prime Minister David Cameron who narrowly missed falling a victim to Panama leaks, in his sponsored landmark anti-corruption summit (London, May 12) came down very heavily on corruption by leaders in power. Assuming the role of Knight Templar to crusade as a leader in a global anti-corruption drive, he did not name Pakistan but his mention of other Commonwealth countries was a pointer that Pakistan too would not escape.

One would like to conclude with a very pertinent and timely comment that has direct bearing on the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by President Mamnoon Hussain in Kotri ( May 13). Describing Panama leaks as “national disaster”, he rightly said that nations involved in corruption do not progress.

Commenting for the first time on Panama leaks, the President said:”The Panama Gate is a natural trap. The bigger the thief is, the more luxuriant his life is. The corruption has adversely affected every institution of the country and now there is a need to launch collective efforts to eliminate this menace.” When one bears in mind that this is the President – who rarely speaks – in the context of Panama Gate, his remarks seems to be pregnant of the events in the near future.



  1. Nothing impressed me in the article more than what he wrote about a bigger thief :" Bigger the thief, the more luxuriant his life is". Perhaps the writer, an ex-Pakistan HC in London, remembers how those twelve boxes or original documents, a solid proof against his master Mr 10%, in the Swiss case, were whisked away by the High Commission from Switzerland. His reference is more clear than blur.

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