PPP seeks to disqualify Nawaz through ECP
ISLAMABAD: After almost a month of bickering over the mode of investigation of the Panamagate scandal, the main opposition party has hinted at leaving the dialogue process and instead file graft cases against the Sharif family for keeping offshore holdings as revealed in the Panana Papers.
Dejected over the persisting deadlock on chalking out consensus terms of reference (ToRs) to investigate Panama leaks, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) decided on Thursday to approach “within days” the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the prime minister.
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The decisions were taken at a high-level huddle presided over by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto. The meeting was attended by former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Faryal Talpur, Khursheed Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan, Nayyer Bokhari, Naveed Qamar, Qamar Kaira, Sherry Rehman, Noor Alam Afridi, Aijaz Jakhrani, Nadeem Afzal Chan, Faisal Karim Kundi, Latif Khosa, Jamil Soomro and Farhatullah Babar.
Senator Babar, the PPP spokesman, told the media that a disqualification petition against PM Nawaz Sharif would be filed with the election commission while another case would be filed against him in NAB.
The move, however, seems to be a pressure building tactic against the government. Since the ECP is currently incomplete, there is hardly any chance of positive developments till its four new members are inducted. Similarly, NAB already has a reputation of always being lenient for the ruling parties.
“We will go stepwise. First we will approach the ECP and NAB and wait for results,” a senior PPP leader told The Express Tribune. “When the stage for street agitation comes, we would like to take along all the opposition parties before opting for such a move.”
Another PPP leader confided these petitions would be filed by next week. “The petitions are almost ready. A senior lawyer will have a look tomorrow to give [them] final touches.”
At the PPP meeting, senior leader Latif Khosa, who would file the pleas on the party’s behalf, shared the contents of the petitions with the participants.
The PPP’s complaint in the ECP names PM Nawaz, his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, his son Hamza Shahbaz, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Cap (retd) Safdar, the son-in-law of the premier.
Opposition Leader in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan earlier told journalists that his party felt the combined opposition should come out of the bipartisan committee constituted to formulate the Panama leaks ToRs.
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“It is futile to continue participating in the committee’s meetings,” he said, voicing concern over the foot-dragging resorted to by the ruling party in drawing the method of investigation.
Senator Babar said Thursday’s 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 involved in the Panamagate scandal.
Stressing the need for an impartial and effective accountability mechanism in the country, the meeting vowed to vigorously pursue the Panama leaks, the spokesperson said in a statement.
“The ruling party has been thoroughly exposed and in its bid to protect an individual from accountability it is resorting to dangerous brinkmanship, which can result in serious repercussions,” the PPP chairman was quoted as saying.
The meeting also stressed the need for unity among the opposition parties in formulating a robust and credible response to the ruling coalition.
The participants also condemned the kidnapping of the son of Sindh’s top judge and the targeted killing qawwali maestro Amjad Sabri in Karachi.
Voicing concern over these incidents, the PPP called for investigating whether or not the spike in targeting high-profile individuals was part of some larger conspiracy.