ISLAMABAD: In a major concession, the joint opposition Thursday agreed to remove the name of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from the draft terms for a proposed inquiry commission which will probe Panamagate scandal, conceding to government’s demand of making the document “issue-specific rather than person-specific”.
In its second meeting in as many days at the Parliament House, the 12-member committee comprising equal numbers from the government and opposition, it principally agreed to a four-point preamble of the terms of reference (ToRs). The preamble was previously suggested by the government through two separate motions adopted in both houses of Parliament.
The opposition also backtracked from another demand that calls for investigating the gifts Nawaz had received while in Saudi Arabia. Nawaz was treated as a state guest in the gulf kingdom for the period the former dictator General (retired) Pervaiz Mushrraf had exiled him.
Deliberating on the ToRs submitted by the opposition, the meeting on Thursday showed greater flexibility.
“If the government thinks that specifically mentioning name of PM Nawaz in the ToRs draft will make the document person specific, then we are ready to accept this demand with an open heart and mind,” leader of the opposition in Senate, Aitzaz Ahsan, told the media after the three-hour long meeting.
The joint opposition had entered into negotiations with the government with a primary demand that any investigations into the Panamagate scandal should start from the premier and his family who have been named in the trove of leaked documents about offshore companies formed in international tax havens.
However, the opposition on Thursday changed its position on the PM’s name maintaining that since Nawaz’s daughter was declared as a dependent of the premier and is named in the Panama Papers, the prime minister ultimately will be probed.
Further, the opposition clarified that matters relating to Panama Papers will be probed in the first phase while the matter of loans being written off, transfer of black money out of Pakistan will be probed in the second phase.
“Consensus will be developed on priorities. And opposition’s priority is investigations into Panama leaks,” he said hinting that the terms were far from being final.
Ahsan also complained about Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s statement to the media.
“Ishaq Dar tried to create misunderstanding which prompted us to clarify the outcome of today’s meeting,” the opposition leader said, adding that they did not witness any openness from the government during Thursday’s proceedings.
Pakistan Tehree-e-Insaf’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the opposition had positively engaged the government’s team in negotiations but did not compromise on core issues.
“The government has been insisting on widening the scope of investigations to an extent that the whole of Pakistan is involved,” Qureshi said.
“Vague ToRs will not be accepted at any cost,” he said ruling out any partial agreement on some points.
He added that the government has agreed to abolish the ex-officio member position in the committee to balance the sides.
Later, Railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique defended the government’s position rejecting the notion that they were rigid. He added that the government is ready to accept just demands.
“So far, there is no deadlock. And every member of the committee was convinced today that when it comes to investigations into offshore companies, it will not be person specific.”
The committee will resume deliberations today (Friday) at 11 am in the Parliament House.
Courtesy : Express Tribune