Breaking the deadlock: Govt has to accept opposition’s ToRs, says Shah
ISLAMABAD: Conceding that a deadlock persists over the formation of an inquiry commission to investigate Panama Papers revelations, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly on Monday asserted that it is the government which has to accept the opposition’s terms of reference for the probe.
“[the government] has to accept terms of the opposition [to resolve the issue],” Shah stated categorically on Monday. His comments came a day before the government and opposition are scheduled to sit down for a crucial meeting of the 12-member parliamentary committee tasked with finalising the terms of reference (ToRs) to probe the Panamagate scandal.
“I do not see any solution to the deadlock,” he said bereft of any hope.
Shah, who met Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari over the weekend, said Zardari had directed him to resolve the issue after consulting other opposition parties in the committee.
Speaking to reporters at his chamber in the National Assembly in Islamabad, the opposition leader said the former president has told Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan to take opposition parties into confidence.
“PPP will take a final decision, in case negotiations with the government on formation of ToRs fail,” he said.
Discussing options the opposition has over the deadlock, Shah walked a tight rope, expressing hope that the matter can be resolved in parliament. He, however, was cautious not to openly endorse street protests as suggested by fellow opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), but was bullish enough to warn the government against ruling out street agitation if the matter is not resolved amicably.
Asked whether the government has been incompetent to thrash a way out of the deadlock, Shah said it was more “immaturity”.
Earlier on Saturday, the seventh meeting of the parliamentary committee ended with the government and opposition parties deadlocked over the terms of reference.
It prompted a frustrated Shah Mehmood Qureshi, PTI leader, to declare that it was “useless” to sit in the ToRs committee anymore. While the PTI had announced it plans to stage demonstrations after Eidul Fitr if the matter is not resolved by then, it changed track on Sunday noting that it will consult opposition parties on evolving a future course of action ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.
A Sunday meeting between Federal Ministers Saad Rafique, Anusha Rehman and Jamat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq also ended without any tangible outcome.
The opposition accuses the government of averting any probe that solely focuses on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The government, however, contends that the opposition is inconsistent on pegging the prime minister for the probe in addition to backtracking on its position several times.
Shah criticses government policies
The Leader of the Opposition was critical of government policies, noting that it has not initiated any major development schemes.
“They [government] can tell how many hospitals have been built so far; why there is no motorway in Sindh,” he asked before accusing the government of focussing “only on one city.”