WEB DESK: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday announced that he would write a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, requesting him to constitute a Judicial Commission to investigate the ‘Panama Leaks’ scandal, saying he would quit if allegations against him were proved true.
In his second televised address to the nation on the ‘Panama Leaks’, he said “I have decided to write a letter to the CJP to investigate the matter” and would accept the recommendations of the Commission. He questioned whether those who have levelled allegations against him would apologise if nothing was proved against him.
The Prime Minister said that the country is once again being destabilised on the issue of the Panama leaks although as soon as the matter surfaced he took the nation into confidence and announced an independent inquiry commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and asked the public to bring forth any evidence against him.
— vows to quit if allegations proved true, feels profoundly embittered about the 1999 military coup
— takes combative tone, accuses opponents of opportunism, hits out at PTI’s approach to politics
— broadens scope of inquiry
The Prime Minister also came hard on the opposition, especially Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief without naming him, and stated that he was not afraid of anybody. He said some elements are causing huge losses to the country because of their “fascist” approach to politics. They are harming the country in their “lust for power”.
“I submit myself for accountability and details of all the assets in the form of income tax are declared. We are paying taxes from the time when some people did not even know the pronunciation of word tax. Our government has published tax directory and put it on the website. I ask the people to see the details of taxes through their own eyes,” he said.
The Prime Minister stated that those who have levelled allegations against him and are teaching morality did not show any moral courage to apologise after a commission formed to probe their allegations of organised rigging, rejected the allegations. He also questioned whether or not those who have been responsible for losses should be held accountable.
Nawaz Sharif said he spent years in pain during his exile and asked whether or not those who dismissed an elected government and sent an elected prime minister in exile should also be made accountable. He said these allegations against him and his family were also decades old and were thoroughly investigated during Pervez Musharraf’s regime. He said those who are accusing him of setting up a steel mills in Saudi Arabia also need to ask who sent an elected prime minister and his family to exile. “I have been in politics from the last three decades and have seen many ups and downs and most painful time was when I was expelled,” he said.
Prime Minister spoke about his past and stated that people of Pakistan are well aware and defeated all the allegations against PML-N. “When it was brought into my notice that tax assets were removed from the ECP website I directed Finance Minister to ask the ECP to upload the details on the website,” he said.
He said the media in the country is free and would request it to write or speak after full consideration and not to indulge in character assassination of anyone or false propaganda.
“As you know my entire life is like an open book, spent in this county from education to politics and my entire family is connected to Pakistan with heart and mind,” he said.
The draft notification containing terms of references of the commission of inquiry by the federal government an SRO issued on Friday said that it has been reported in the national media, on the basis of information published in the foreign press and broadcast on electronic media, that certain documents from a law firm in Panama (the “Panama Papers”) and other sources indicate involvement of Pakistani citizens, persons of Pakistan origin and legal entities in offshore companies:
“AND WHEREAS reports have also appeared in the national media regarding involvement of holders of public office in writing-off bank loans through political influence and transfer from Pakistan of funds which have originated from corruption, commissions or kickbacks;
AND WHEREAS the Federal Government deems it expedient in the public interest to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the aforesaid matters;
NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 1956 (VI of 1956) (the Act) the Federal Government is pleased to appoint a Commission of Inquiry comprising the following:-
“2. The Commission of Inquiry shall have the following Terms of Reference:-
(1) to examine information relating to: –
(a) involvement of Pakistani citizens, persons of Pakistan origin and legal entities in off-shore companies in Panama or in any other country; and,
(b) involvement of former and present holders of public office in:-
(i) writing off their own bank loans or those of their immediate family members through political influence; and,
(ii) transfer from Pakistan of funds which have originated from corruption, commissions or kickbacks;
(2) to determine whether, in any case referred to in (1) (a) and (b) above, any law for the time being in force in Pakistan has been infringed;
(3) in case the answer to (2) above is affirmative, to determine responsibility for such infringement; and,
(4) to make such recommendations as may be deemed appropriate.
“3. The Commission shall, in addition to the powers under section 4 of the Act, have all the additional powers under section 5 ibid, including the powers mentioned in sub-paragraphs (1) to (4) below: –
(1) The Commission shall have powers under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for:
(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person, including a tax expert or accountant, and examining him on oath;
(b) requiring the discovery and production of any documents;
(c) receiving evidence on affidavits;
(d) issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses on documents; and,
(e) requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any Court or office.
(2) 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.
(3) Any officer not below the rank of a gazetted officer, specially authorised 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.
(4) 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.
“4. The Commission shall be assisted by all the concerned authorities of the Federal and Provincial Governments.
“5. 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.
“6. The Cabinet Division shall provide secretarial assistance to the Commission. “-PR
Source: Business Recorder