Opposition scents victory after top court’s decision
KARACHI / ISLAMABAD: Buoyed by the Supreme Court’s refusal to form a commission to probe the Panama leaks on the government’s terms, opposition members have decided to ratchet up pressure on the ruling party while keeping the door open for negotiations.
Hours after the apex court declined the government’s request, the opposition parties called a brainstorming session on Monday to decide the future course of action before the prime minister arrives in the lower house.
CJP refuses govt’s request to form judicial commission probing Panama leaks
Since the current session started on May 9 , the opposition has been staging walkouts from the National Assembly and the Senate. Even the prime minister has been forced to come to the National Assembly and is likely to clarify his position before the lawmakers on Monday.
At a news conference in Karachi on Friday, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah advised the premier to write a second letter to the chief justice before Monday.
“I hope the PM will come to parliament on Monday to answer our queries related to offshore companies of his family,” he repeated this sentence four times in his media briefing, where PPP Senator Saeed Ghani and MNA Aijaz Jakhrani were also present.
Shah said the Supreme Court had also asked the prime minister to make laws to form a commission to probe Panama leaks in Pakistan. “What is wrong in making a law on it? We did it earlier by passing a bill to form a judicial commission to investigate election results,” he recalled.
“I assure the prime minister no one from the opposition wants to disturb him and his government, but we all are seeking clarity,” he said, adding that the owners of offshore companies must be held accountable.
Shah said his party wanted to resolve the issue inside parliament rather than drag it onto the streets.
Politicians the most referenced occupation in Panama Papers
He said the opposition members were pointing fingers at the premier because of his lukewarm response. “Everyone knows the prime minister’s sons have confessed to owning offshore companies, so he should inform parliament how the money was transferred abroad,” he said.
On the chief justice’s decision to decline forming a judicial commission, the opposition leader said the opposition and the government should sit together to hammer out an amicable solution to the problem.
While talking to the media outside parliament, Opposition Leader in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said the PM had no other option but to explain his position. “Without answering our seven questions, the premier’s address in the house will be meaningless,” he said.
The PTI believed the Supreme Court’s decision clearly indicated the government’s ToRs were wrong. “We have been insisting from day one the ToRs are meaningless without the opposition’s input and today it has been proved,” said PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
PM Nawaz rebuffs opposition’s clamour over Panama leaks
The opposition believes that things could move forward if the prime minister satisfies the opposition on Monday. “Now the ball is in government’s court. Ultimately, the government has to form a commission after taking the opposition into confidence,” PPP senator Saeed Ghani told The Express Tribune. Opposition parties, he added, have been in contact and the final decision will be taken on Monday.
Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed believed the top court’s decision was the first victory of the opposition, which put the government on the defensive. He claimed the opposition parties have prepared 60 supplementary questions for the prime minister in parliament next week.
Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq said the government had no other option now except to come to the negotiating table and draft joint ToRs with the opposition. “The Panama leaks are a reality and the prime minister cannot run away from it,” he added.
Fazl phones Zardari
Meanwhile, JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman has reportedly contacted former president Asif Zardari looking for “reconciliatory support” for the prime minister. The JUI-F is a coalition partner of the ruling PML-N.
Party insiders told The Express Tribune that Fazl telephoned Zardari on the request of PM Nawaz, who is interested in getting the PPP leader’s support amid the growing controversy on offshore accounts.