- Says PTI will march towards Raiwind if govt does not review TORs according to opposition parties’ satisfaction
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday criticised the Terms of Reference (TORs) of the judicial commission announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to probe the allegations levelled by Panama Papers, calling them as mere “eyewash” and “joke with the nation”.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday, Imran Khan said he was “very disappointed after hearing Friday’s speech by Nawaz Sharif”.
“I thought the prime minister would perhaps give an explanation of why he has the offshore accounts, but now I am positive that he has something to hide.”
“This is an eyewash and joke with the nation and is aimed at burying justice and accountability,” he said.
Almost three weeks after the leaks revealed that the prime minister’s three children were among dozens of influential people from across the globe having offshore companies in tax havens, the government sent a letter to the Supreme Court registrar, requesting chief justice of Pakistan to form an inquiry commission under broad-based terms of references.
“The terms of this reference were not finalised with the opposition,” Imran said, adding that if the government was serious for accountability, it may have formed an enquiry commission based on mutually agreed TORs.
“This commission does not have powers more than that of a civil court and we totally reject it,” he said.
The PTI leader went on to say that he would announce a future plan of action on Sunday (today) as to when his party will begin protest if the government does not fulfill their demands.
According to Imran Khan, the ToRs should have only mentioned the prime minister’s name as he is the head of the state while others can be inquired later, thus avoiding delay.
The terms of references, he said, have instead made the commission and the premier dubious, proving Nawaz Sharif is scared of accountability.
The cricketer-turned-politician was of the view that head of states in democratic governments must have moral authority and this is what the prime minister has already lost. “We also object on the terms of references that the government, with the single stroke of the pen, can abolish the commission.”
He also demanded that the commission may acquire services of a forensic audit firm as well as investigation bureau including ISI, FBR, NAB and even NADRA for internal and external probe of foreign accounts.
Imran added that he was dismayed to listen to the prime minister’s speech as it did not tend to answer the allegations of tax evasion, money laundering, corruption and declaration of assets.
“The government-proposed TORs for the enquiry will result in a weak commission which will be a fruitless exercise. Although we weren’t satisfied with the verdict of the judicial commission that investigated rigging in the 2013 elections, we accepted the result nevertheless because the opposition had endorsed the TORs set for that commission,” he said.
“If the government does not review the TORs by taking the opposition into confidence, the PTI has no option but to march towards the Raiwind estate of Nawaz Sharif,” he said.
On April 5, Prime Minister Nawaz had formed a judicial commission led by a former judge of the Supreme Court but the same was rejected by the opposition demanding probe led by the chief justice and audit by an international firm.
A massive leak of 11.5 million tax documents on April 3 had exposed the secret offshore dealings of world leaders and celebrities. Among those named were three of PM Nawaz’s children – Maryam, Hasan and Hussain – with the records showing they owned London real estate through offshore companies administrated by the firm.
The documents, from around 214,000 offshore entities, came from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm with offices in more than 35 countries.
Nawaz Sharif’s hands are clean, says information minister:
Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid hit back in response to the PTI chief’s remarks.
“Imran Khan was calling for a commission until yesterday, and today he is complaining about it. Perhaps, he had thought a commission would not be made. He was proved wrong,” he said.
“Nawaz Sharif’s hands are clean and that is why a commission has been made.”
“The commission has a far-reaching scope, it can investigate anyone,” emphasised the minister.
Commission’s Terms of Reference:
Following the prime minister’s address on Friday night, the federal government has written a formal letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan for setting up an inquiry commission.
The letter, written by the ministry of law, says the commission can probe the offshore accounts of Pakistani citizens, investigate current or former bureaucrats and would have the power to summon any individual.
The Commission of Inquiry shall have the following Terms of Reference:
To examine information relating to involvement of Pakistani citizens, persons of Pakistan origin and legal entities in off-shore companies in Panama or in any other country.
Involvement of former and present holders of public office in writing off their own bank loans or those of their immediate family members through political influence.
Transfer from Pakistan of funds which have originated from corruption, commissions or kickbacks, and to determine whether, in any case referred to above, any law for the time being in force in Pakistan has been infringed.
In case the answer to above is affirmative, to determine responsibility for such infringement, and to make such recommendations as may be deemed appropriate.
The Commission shall have powers under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person, including a tax expert or accountant, and examining him on oath, requiring the discovery and production of any documents, receiving evidence on affidavits, issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses on documents and requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any Court or office.
The Commission shall have the powers to require any person, subject to any privilege which may be claimed by that person under any law for the time being in force, to furnish information on such point or matters as, in the opinion of the Commission, may be useful for, or relevant to, the subject matter of the inquiry.
Any officer not below the rank of a gazetted officer, specially authorized in this behalf by the President of the Commission may enter any building or place where the Commission has reason to believe that any books of account or other documents relating to the subject matter of the inquiry may be found, and may seize any such books of account or documents or take extracts or copies therefrom subject to the provisions of section 102 and section 103 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, insofar as they may be applicable.
Any proceeding before the Commission shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860.
The Commission shall be assisted by all the concerned authorities of the Federal and Provincial Governments.
The Commission shall start the inquiry at a place and on a date to be fixed by it and shall submit its report to the Federal Government in accordance with its Terms of Reference.
The Cabinet Division shall provide secretarial assistance to the Commission.