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Hullabaloo in NA over Panama leak

Hullabaloo in NA  over Panama leak

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly on Thursday started a furious debate on matters arising out of Panama Papers on a motion moved by Minister for Law Zahid Hamid.

Opposition demanded the prime minister present himself and his family before a judicial commission headed by the chief justice of Pakistan for accountability. While initiating the discussion, opposition leader Khursheed Ahmad Shah strongly rejected the government’s decision to set up a judicial commission to probe Panama leaks. He said Panama Papers have raised certain issues regarding tax evasion and investment. “On one hand the government has announced a tax amnesty scheme to motivate people to pay taxes, but in this case investments were made in offshore companies to evade tax,” Shah said. He added that nobody in Pakistan would accept the judicial commission set up by the prime minister himself to investigate the matter.

“Imran Khan, Naveed Qamar, Sirajul Haq or Khawaja Asif did not make the allegations about the offshore holdings of Sharif family. It was leaked by the law firm,” he said. “No judicial commission can answer the questions being raised by the opposition parties about Panama leaks,” he added while opposing the establishment of a judicial commission. He said the matter should be investigated by international audit companies of repute. “Such investment might be legal but politicians should stand high on moral grounds,” the opposition leader observed.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan stated that allegations have not been leveled by the opposition but a consortium of journalists. He said instead of responding to the allegations the government is hurling accusations against Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital and his Bani Gala property. Imran Khan demanded the government constitute a judicial commission headed by the serving chief justice of Pakistan over the leaks. In a fiery speech from the floor of National Assembly, Imran Khan said forensic experts be made part of the proposed commission.

“If an independent and powerful commission is not formed, the PTI would be left with no other option but to come out on streets,” the PTI chief warned amid desk thumping from opposition benches. Imran said he invites the proposed commission to begin its investigation from him and his residence in Bani Gala. He lamented that Pakistan has witnessed increase of billions in its loan over the past three years. On the other hand, while taking part in the debate, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said names of the children of Prime Minister Nawaz were mentioned in Panama Papers but there was no reference to the prime minister himself. 

He said that despite this, the prime minister has addressed the nation and explained the background of his family business. Khawaja Asif said the prime minister has announced setting up of a high-level judicial commission, which will have comprehensive terms of reference to ensure transparency of its investigations. About the demand of the leader of the opposition regarding forensic audit by a company, the minister said anyone can appear before the commission and produce any evidence. Khawaja Asif clarified that it would be an inquiry commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

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