Panama Papers – Pakistan’s Politics towards Blind Alley?

By M. Tahir Khan.

It apparently appears that the politics of Pakistan has come to a dead end, no conclusion in sight. Today Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali declines to form toothless commission on Panama leaks on the Terms and References prepared by government. Supreme Court in their letter to Secretary Law noted that the scope of proposed commission is limited and ToRs adopted by government are too broad to conduct inquiry and will take years to complete inquiry. Additionally Supreme Court also revised the suggestion of opposition parties to consider new legislation to empower the commission.

The Panama leaks were published on 4th April, but government and opposition parties after spending 40 days were simply unable to formulate a clear and joint policy to work out to conduct investigations on the charges framed in Panama leaks against the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Opposition’s last ditch effort to call Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to give his explanation in National Assembly on the questionnaire is also fading. Prime Minister on his way back from Tajikistan while talking to media persons had refused to give answers to the questions of opposition in National Assembly. Prime Minister took the plea that he is not answerable to the questions of opposition party and said he is willing to present his explanation in front of Judicial Commission and no person can act as Judicial Commission.

Earlier Imran Khan and opposition leaders from Pakistan People Party had rejected any inquiry under federal government departments including Federal Investigation Agency, Federal Board of Revenue and National Accountability Bureau. The only independent body is Supreme Court of Pakistan which has refused to conduct and form Commission in the absence of jointly formed terms of references and special law.

Opposition parties after the efforts of four weeks, finally able to design draft ToRs for Judicial Commission but government ministers in a high profile press conference chaired by Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Federal Interior Minister accompanied by Zahid Hamid, Federal Law Minister and Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Prime Minister’s Legal Advisor rejected the opposition party’s terms of references and offered the opposition to sit together to formulate a joint policy to eliminate corruption from the country. Zahid Hamid government’s legal team lead took the plea that terms of references seemed to be anti-Nawaz Sharif and his family members, its sole purpose to tarnish the government of PML N. Federal Ministers took plea that opposition’s draft only make Prime Minister accountable and leaving all others aside.

Also Read: Panama Papers & Re-Emergence of PPP

Buck stops at Prime Minister’s office, he either has to formulate ToRs mutually agreed by all stake holders or present his clear explanation in National Assembly, but government has managed to bargain time from opposition parties and already strengthened its position, but it will not be able to sustain this position in longer run. Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf’s complete campaign of public rallies in different cities went in vain and completely failed to bring government to be held accountable after panama leaks, but Pakistan People Party is stealing the show and providing government a space to gain time and to shift public opinion in their interests. People Party’s Co Chairman Asif Ali Zardari will be a key player in the coming days, he can either strengthen or weaken the Nawaz Sharif, however his silence is giving Nawaz government a space to strengthen its position, whereas at the moment his party’s second tier leadership leading the opposition and strengthening their political position by opposing the government.

Also Read: Panama Papers & PTI’s Politics

Important question stands here is whether PPP’s leadership will continue to stand against Nawaz Sharif in the coming days?

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with Army Chief General Raheel Sharif also went in vain, some sections of the media opened up the minutes of the meeting wherein Nawaz Sharif was pressed by Army Chief to control situation on Panama Papers at an earliest for the larger interests of Pakistan.

Finally, ball is in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s court, he has to decide future layout in finalizing Judicial Commission on mutually agreed ToRs or any other way to conduct inquiry into Panama Papers on which all stakeholders will show their agreement. Prime Minister will brief and take house in confidence on the coming Monday, but if he will not come out with clear plan then the politics of Pakistan will come to a dead end, no conclusion in sight and situation will be worse.

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