Opposition parties in NA likely to unite on offshore funds issue

Source:  Dawn.com Published in Politics on Thursday, April 07, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The issue of establishment of offshore companies by sons and daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will dominate parliament’s proceedings as almost all opposition parties have made a joint strategy to forcefully take up the matter in the National Assembly session on Thursday and a joint sitting of both houses scheduled for April 11.

The parties rejected the prime minister’s decision to form a judicial commission to investigate revelations related to his family made in the so-called Panama Papers and demanded that the probe should be carried out by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency and Federal Board of Revenue.

The prime minister should not have used his office to clarify his family affairs, they said while criticising his address to the nation on Tuesday.

PPP: The main opposition party in parliament submitted an adjournment motion in the National Assembly Secretariat to discuss the issue and devise a mechanism to investigate the matter.

PM’s decision to form probe commission rejected

The motion, signed by MNAs Shazia Mari, Dr Nafisa Shah, Imran Zafar Laghari, Abdul Sattar Bachani and Syed Mustafa Mehmood, said: “This is a serious matter as it questions the credibility and integrity of many high-profile people of the country, including the immediate family of the sitting prime minister. It immediately needs to be discussed on the floor of the house so that a thorough mechanism could be devised to probe the allegations.

“We the undersigned invite the attention of the minister for interior and the minister for finance towards the revelations made in ‘Panama Leaks’ related to Pakistanis’ covert investments in dubious offshore companies to gain some undue advantages.”

They said involvement of Pakistanis, especially the prime minister’s family, raised questions on the legality as well as morality of such actions.

“These allegations bring disgrace to the country as the prime minister of Pakistan and his family is named along with mafia gangs, terrorists and other wrongdoers,” they added.

PTI: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf also submitted an adjournment motion in the assembly secretariat, calling for a thorough discussion on the issue.

A press release issued by the party said the revelations had shattered the foundation of democracy in the country.

The motion said the custodian of the house should suspend normal proceedings and allow a detailed discussion on ‘Panama leaks’.

MQM: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement submitted an adjournment motion in the Senate.

The motion, submitted by Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, said: “It is not just the prime minister’s family which is under scrutiny. The leaks have exposed over 200 prominent Pakistanis — businessmen, politicians, bureaucrats and even retired judges. The government must first place a complete list of the over 200 Pakistanis mentioned before this honourable house and also provide details of all action contemplated to be taken to eradicate such evils from our society.”

It said members of the prime minister’s family and government spokesmen had failed so far to answer basic questions about the money trail.

“There is a need either to hand over the complete dossier to NAB for an immediate and through investigation into the alleged leaks concerning the 200 people mentioned with a deadline given to NAB by parliament to complete the inquiry and submit the report to parliament within six months or, as seems to be the government’s desire, to form a commission, judicial or otherwise,” the motion said.

The MQM suggested that the commission should have the authority to investigate the finances and assets, both inside and outside the country, of all the 200 people.

“The persons having property/business abroad should volunteer to assist the commission in any way that the commission desires.”

Senator Mashhadi said tax evasion, money-laundering, rampant corruption and other social and economic ills must be ruthlessly investigated and most stringent measures taken to root them out.

ANP: The Awami National Party’s information secretary, Zahid Khan, said in a statement that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should not have addressed the nation to clarify his and his family’s position. “The prime minister’s explanatory statement to the nation has not sent a positive message to the world.”

The ANP leader hailed the decision to form a judicial commission and demanded that it should be independent and powerful. He said doing business was the right of every citizen, but it should be separate from politics.