ISLAMABAD: The standoff between government and opposition parties on Panama leaks is likely to persist after the former rejected on Friday the latter’s terms of reference (ToRs) for setting up an inquiry commission to probe the issue.
The government told the opposition that its ToRs, in their current form, were unacceptable and asked to resubmit them as fresh proposals. This led the opposition team to announce that “there is a deadlock… over the issue”.
PML-N to consult opposition on ToRs
The third meeting of the 12-member parliamentary committee [six each from the government and opposition parties] mandated to draft unanimous ToRs was held at the Parliament House on Friday.
The joint opposition also reiterated it was ready to omit the prime minister’s name from the draft ToRs, but only if the government accepted 13 of the 15 ToRs in their entirety it submitted earlier.
“Omitting the (PM’s) name from draft ToRs does not mean leaving him [the PM] out of the scope of investigations. He will remain subject to investigations being father of his children, Hussain Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz, whose names are mentioned in Panama Papers,” said PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan, the Leader of the Opposition in Senate. He is also a member of the parliamentary committee.
He said some quarters were deliberately trying to create an impression that the opposition had offered “immunity” to the Prime Minister via this offer.
“The deadlock exists because of the government’s inflexibility on accepting our ToRs,” Ahsan told media persons at the end of the meeting.
He said that the opposition would not accept anything less than a probe into the Panamagate scandal first and then investigating other issues. “And Panamagate probe will be initiated by investigating the PM’s family first,” Ahsan insisted.
Parliamentary body agrees to omit PM’s name from Panama leaks scandal probe
PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi, another member of the committee, said: “There is no progress over the issue.”
Qureshi announced that if the government continued its rigidity about “not accepting our ToRs in entirety, the opposition would be left with no option but to cancel the four-point preamble of the ToRs agreed upon during Thursday’s meeting”.
“The government wants a toothless commission with vague ToRs. Such a commission will not serve the purpose and is not acceptable,” Qureshi said.
Earlier, it was decided that opposition’s ToRs would be discussed first. On Friday, the government team submitted a para-wise reply to the opposition’s ToRs and asked the opposition to re-articulate its terms of reference.