- PPP says it has decided to quit TORs committee, will also file references in ECP against PM and his family members
- Finance Minister Dar says filing of references will usher in ‘politics of 1990s’
As the deadlock over the Panama Papers enquiry Terms of Reference (TORs) continues, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Thursday stepped up pressure on the government side by saying that it was ready to leave the parliamentary committee formed to probe the Panama leaks and would rather file references against the prime minister and his family members in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The government, on the other hand, claimed that filing of references against the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members would go against the spirit of reconciliation.
Speaking to media after a meeting of senior party leaders in Zardari House Islamabad, Aitzaz said the opposition provided Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif an opportunity to clear his name, but the government members kept insisting on removal of his name from the Terms of Reference (ToR).
When asked if forming the parliamentary committee was a mistake, he said that it cannot be termed as such as it showed the true face of rulers.
“Nawaz Sharif proudly said in the parliament, his Bannu and Haripur rallies that he has presented himself and his family for accountability, but now he has been exposed,” said Aitzaz.
Aitzaz stated he wants to bring all opposition parties on “one container”.
Talking to reporters, PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the party chairman, Bilawal Bhutto, warned the ruling PML-N that its bid to protect an individual from accountability will have serious repercussions.
Attended by senior PPP leaders, including former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Faryal Talpur, Khursheed Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan, Nayyer Bokhari, Naveed Qamar, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Sherry Rehman, Latif Khosa, and Farhatullah Babar, the meeting discussed the overall political situation in the country and the party’s organisational matters.
At the outset, Aitzaz Ahsan told the meeting that the opposition bloc in the bi-partisan parliamentary committee had gone to great lengths to formulate Terms of Reference (ToRs) with consensus for a probe into Panama leaks, but all these efforts drew a blank.
The meeting expressed grave concern over the government’s tactics of dragging feet in carrying forward investigation into the scandal, and warned it that such maneuvers could result in serious political repercussions.
Farhatullah Babar said the meeting decided to consult all parties on the situation arising out of the government’s bid to discourage the parliamentary committee from ensuring credible, effective and across-the-board accountability of all those named in the Panama Papers.
He said the meeting, while stressing the need for an impartial and effective accountability mechanism in the country, vowed to vigorously pursue the Panama leaks scandal. The meeting also stressed the need for unity in the opposition ranks in formulating a robust and credible response to the ruling coalition sidetracking the issue, added the spokesperson.
Farhatullah Babar said that the meeting decided to file a petition against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for his disqualification from holding public office. Another case will also be filed in the NAB against the prime minister, he added.
According to Babar, the meeting was given a briefing by Sardar Latif Khosa on the dossiers for filing a petition before the ECP as well as a case in the NAB. It was decided that both the petitions before would be filed by Latif Khosa on behalf the party as soon as possible.
The meeting also reviewed party’s organisation matters in all the provinces, and directed the respective provincial coordination committees to step up the re-organisation process in accordance with the guidelines already issued in this regard.
The meeting meanwhile condemned the kidnapping of the son of the Sindh High Court chief justice and the assassination of renowned Qawwal Amjad Sabri in Karachi in quick succession.
Expressing grave concern over these incidents, the meeting called for investigating whether the spurt in the incidents of targeting high profile and high-value individuals was part of some larger design of the militants and their backers.
Lawyer Latif Khosa told media that he, on his party’s behalf, will file ineligibility petition in ECP against five members of Sharif family as the declarations they filed in the commission were not based on truth.
Giving out names he said the petitions will be filed against Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz, Captain Safdar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
POLITICS OF 90s:
Speaking in a television programme, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is leading the government’s side in the negotiations with the joint opposition, said that PPP’s threat of filing references against the members of the ruling family would bring back the era of 1990s when parties resorted to political victimization of each other when in power.
“PPP will regret its decision of agitation or filing cases against PML-N leadership. The saner elements in the party should avoid the politics of 90s. Although it is internal affair of PPP, but it is regrettable that the party is going to be trapped and will lament this decision in coming days,”
Ishaq Dar said, replying to a question about decision of filing cases for disqualification of the five key PML-N leaders.
He said that lead persons of the PPP in the ToRs committee are misguiding the party and it is responsibility of the party elders to apply their
sanity instead of listening to those who were trapping the party.
He said he sees Bilawal Bhutto the same manner as he used to during meetings with Benazir Bhutto when BB used to call Bilawal to greet me. “I did not even reply his tweets. I see him with the same love as son of Benazir Bhutto.”
He said during the last meeting, the government team had clearly defined the course of proceedings to the committee on ToRs clarifying that in response to every point of their ToRs certain law will either be violated or complied.
“We had prepared comprehensive ToRs which can be acceptable to any person with an unbiased thinking,” he added.
“PML-N does not need anybody’s immunity or amnesty. PPP is itself falling prey to a trap at the behest of some people and will regret its decision,” he added.
Answering a question, Dar said Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif twice — once before his surgery and then after it. “The government and the establishment have cordial relations. These are some people who are busy in rumour mongering and trying to create confusion,” he said.
About the health status of the prime minister, Dar said it was decided that Maryam Nawaz would continue updating people on this issue and she has been doing so with her tweets. “We have been told that doctors may allow the PM to travel during last days of Ramzan,” he said.
He said his meeting with Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah was about nomination of the members of Election Commission but as far as the matter of filing cases against the PML-N leaders, “it will not be a welcoming decision.”
He also referred to the past when he met with Benazir Bhutto in 2002 and consequently a door was opened for negotiations that resulted in the Charter of Democracy.
He said some names for the ECP members were sent to him by the PM that have informally been conveyed to Khursheed Shah. “We have planned to hold meetings on the issue after Eid and hopefully the process would be completed within the stipulated 45 days and in the light of the 22nd Constitutional Amendment, two of the four upcoming members will have half tenure for one time like it was done in case of the members of the Senate.”
On May 18, the federal government and the opposition agreed to form a 12 member committee in order to draft joint terms of reference (ToR) for an inquiry commission to probe Panama papers.
The committee was made to consider options for inquiring into issues raised by the Panama Papers including offshore companies, transfer from Pakistan of funds originating from corruption, commission or kickbacks, and written-off bank loans.
It was to submit a report to Parliament within two weeks.