Panama Papers – Is Nawaz Sharif Gaining the Ground?

M. Tahir Khan.

The day came and left without being noticed. All media hype, expectations of commentators and experts went in vain as the Monday session of National Assembly of Pakistan remained a mystery for the public of Pakistan at large. It was also an opportunity for Imran Khan to speak out his mind, first by presenting his own stance related to his tax records and secondly by raising the objections on the speech of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but he didn’t do so. The reasons are yet unknown and many speculations are roaming around that why he did not address while Speaker was calling for his name to speak and instead had opted to walk out behind all other opposition parties.

However, today on Wednesday 18th May, Imran Khan again attended National Assembly session and spoke out on his turn, turned down the explanations given by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and raised many additional questions in front of government. But, this time Prime Minster was not sitting in the assembly and there has been lesser impact on the masses as no one even knew that Imran Khan was scheduled to speak, whereas on the earlier session people were waiting for his address but he opted to walk out along with other opposition members.

ALSO READ: Panama Papers – Pakistan’s Politics towards Blind Alley?

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after all the efforts and boycott of opposition parties, appeared to address the session on this Monday, ignored the seven questions prepared by the joint opposition and remained confident during his speech and managed to maneuver political position in his favor. Instead of responding the exact questions of opposition parties, once again like his earlier two addresses to nation on national television, he repeated the same lines, but gave out some additional facts and figures of his family business from early 70s before the start of his politics in Pakistan. He has also announced to workout with opposition parties for the formation of parliamentary committee to design joint Terms of References for Judicial Inquiry Commission.

Facts presented by Prime Minister may be important, but the way opposition parties behaved on Monday has apparently provided an opportunity to the government to name the day in their favour. The government accepted all the conditions by joint opposition raised for this special session being attended by Prime Minister. All addresses after PM’s address were also supposed to be broadcasted live on national television and government had also assured the presence of PM during the talk of opposition leaders, but only the Leader of the Opposition, Syed Khurshid Shah spoke for two minutes only, rejected the PM’s speech and simply stated that Prime Minister has now raised 70 more questions and he walked out of the house.

ALSO READ:  Panama Papers & Re-Emergence of PPP

It’s a million dollar lost opportunity, government played well, Leader of Opposition who conducted opposition parties’ meeting before the assembly session including the leaders from Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (Shah Mehmood Qureshi and others) in actual provided relief to the Prime Minister who attended, spoke without any interference and left without hearing hard talks from the opposition leaders including Imran Khan. An interesting element being reported and viewed during the session relates to Imran Khan, Chairman Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf, who remained busy taking notes from the speech of Prime Minister to respond on his turn, but he had to leave suddenly with others after two minute ceremonial criticism by Khurshid Shah on PM’s speech. This indicates that Imran Khan was probably not aware of opposition parties’ plan or better to say that his own party’s leadership kept him in dark on the decision taken in opposition parties meeting. However, after leaving the National Assembly, Imran Khan along with other leaders of joint opposition, spoke to the media and raised his observations on the Prime Minister’s clarification on Panama Papers’ revelations.

In general, government remained comfortable in National Assembly whereas joint opposition parties in their next day meeting, agreed to return back to the National Assembly / Senate sessions and also agreed on the offer made by Prime Minister to form a parliamentary committee to design mutually agreed Terms of References. This is the point where government wants to bring all opposition parties and now a negotiation process will kick off for joint TORs. No one knows how much time will be consumed in the formation of parliamentary committee and government has so far remained successful in bringing all the stakeholders to start legal process to cleanse their names from the guilt of Panama Papers.

Getting agreed to form a parliamentary committee for joint TORs, it is not only government but all the opposition parties including Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf that have ultimately turned the overall scenarios in government’s favour and a legal process will now kick start. Coming week will determine the future way forward, at the moment government appears in safe waters but how long will remain safe is a question mark.


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