PPP rejects allegations made by PM against the party’s deceased leaders, says Nawaz trying to fool nation with another political gimmick in name of JC
PTI says PM did not address questions raised in wake of release of Panama Papers
Majority of the legal experts and the mainstream political parties of the country have rejected the announcement by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif about the formation of a Judicial Commission headed by a retired judge of the apex court to probe the revelations made in the Panama Leaks about the offshore companies owned by the prime minister’s children.
Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) have rejected the commission while Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has welcomed the announcement.
Reacting to the PM’s address, PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said Prime Minister Nawaz was blaming his woes on the policies of the governments of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in early 70s and that of Benazir Bhutto in 1989.
“It is a measure of the grave shock caused by the Panama Papers leaks that the prime minister instead of answering questions raised in the leaked documents has resorted to blame game against the PPP leaders,” Senator Babar said.
“The PM thought it fit to recall that in the era of nationalization, the Ittefaq Foundry was also nationalized and that the family received nothing in return. But he forgot to mention that one of the first acts of dictator Ziaul Haq was to return the foundry to the Sharif family without the state being paid anything in return.”
“The prime minister thought it fit to allege that in 1989 during the government of Benazir Bhutto their cargo ship was not allowed to off load at Karachi dockyard. But he conveniently forgot to remember that the cargo ship Jonathan was held up by customs authorities after it was found to be carrying a sugar plant instead of the claimed steel scrap,” he said.
Commenting separately, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari questioned in a late night tweet if they had been the ones behind the Panama Leaks, referring to the fact that the papers had been released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
PPP senior leader Aitzaz Ahsan said that the PPP had rejected the formation of a commission, saying that the commission would be a ploy to sweep the matter under the rug.
Aitzaz Ahsan said he wondered how the property of the Sharifs had multiplied over such a short span of time.
The PPP’s veteran leader asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to launch an investigation into the money trail related to PM Sharif and his family.
Talking to Pakistan Today, PPP central leader and former information minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the prime minister had made another effort to trick the Pakistani nation with another political gimmick.
He said the PM had incorrectly called a commission headed by a retired judge ‘a high powered Judicial Commission’.
“A Judicial Commission consists of sitting judges and not a retired judge,” he pointed out. “It is also ridiculous to claim that allegations are being leveled by his opponents. It is not [his] opponents nor is it the media which is leveling allegations. It is the actual evidence that has been exposed as a result of the papers leaked at a law firm which offers offshore accounts.”
Kaira urged the family members of the prime minister to go and challenge the veracity of the Panama Papers at the relevant international forum and prove their innocence.
“The evidence we have is that the son of the prime minister has accepted publicly that he, his brother and sister own offshore accounts and properties which they never accepted before. Forming an offshore company falls under moral turpitude. If the amount in offshore companies was legal, they would have owned it rather than hiding it in offshore bank accounts,” he maintained.
Kaira further said that it was absurd to ask individuals to go and prove the wrongdoings of the prime minister’s family before the commission.
“You need experts who can examine relevant data and probe money trails from one bank to another which happens in the cases of white collar crime. So, the evidence of innocence has to be provided by the family of the prime minister and no one else needs to prove allegations,” he added.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Khurshid Shah also lashed out at the PML-N chief and asked why he hid the offshore companies when they are legal.
PTI REJECTS FORMATION OF JC:
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in its reaction to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech Tuesday night said that the prime minister had not addressed the questions raised in the wake of the release of Panama Papers. The party said that most of the PM’s speech consisted of politics and storytelling.
Chairman Imran Khan had said earlier that investigations pertaining to Panama Papers have been launched in the entire world except in Pakistan.
The party’s twitter account said soon after the PM’s speech that they agreed that those who loot national assets do not keep money in their own name. It said that the prime minister had not made it clear if he will be the one to appoint the retired Supreme Court judges to the Judicial Commission or if the chief justice would appoint the judges.
The PTI questioned if the commission will be made truly independent and empowered to investigate the companies registered in the name of the prime minister’s children or if they will be allowed to investigate the money that was used to start the companies.
The PTI concluded its reaction by saying that the prime minister did not know that no one had to go and prove anything before the Judicial Commission, he himself had to prove that there had been no financial irregularities.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan said the data leak was a defining moment for Pakistan, adding that: “How can those who launder money from Pakistan to offshore accounts ask others to invest in Pakistan?”
JI NOT A FAN EITHER:
JI Chief Siraj-ul-Haq said that the nation had rejected the commission to be formed by the government.
“The prime minister has failed to answer questions raised by Panama papers about the offshore companies owned by his family. The prime minister said everything but not a single word was uttered about the offshore companies owned by his family members,” said the JI chief.
He said if the offshore companies were lawful, why were such accounts not allowed in Pakistan and why did the Sharif family not put their money in accounts inside Pakistan.
Earlier, a massive leak of 11.5 million documents had exposed secret offshore dealings of celebrities and world leaders.
The report revealed that Hussain and Hasan Nawaz Sharif, and Mariam Safdar, the sons and daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, set up at least four offshore companies in British Virgin Islands (BVI). These companies owned at least six upmarket properties overlooking London‘s Hyde Park.
Thousands of Mossack Fonseca documents were reviewed and subsequent enquiries revealed that the Sharif family mortgaged four of these properties to the Deutsche Bank (Suisse) SA for a loan of GBP 7 million and that the Bank of Scotland partly financed the purchase of two other apartments.