WEB DESK: Not only is Imran Khan good at airing time-specific ultimatums, he is also said to have earned for himself a reputation of delivering on them.
He has now asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to set up a Chief Justice of Pakistan-headed commission by April 24 to investigate the Panama leaks, or resign. Should the prime minister fail to meet either demand the people of Pakistan, and not PTI alone, will besiege the PM’s residence at Raiwind and force his diktat, according to Imran.
Even when the 126-day sit-in at Capital’s D-Chowk had failed to bring down the Nawaz Sharif government what he did succeed in establishing was that he is capable of undertaking protracted protests. “The prime minister has lost the moral authority to continue running the affairs of the state as he is accused of money laundering, tax evasion, corruption and concealing of assets,” he declared in what he dubbed his ‘address to the nation’, from a makeshift podium erected on the lawns of his sprawling residence at Banigala in the suburbs of Islamabad.
A day before his party succeeded in breaking the taboo by holding a press conference on the premises of Press Information Department (PID), which until then had remained the province of the party-in-power. If Imran Khan was right in making his ‘address to the nation’ as head of a political party having no official status, we do not know, but we do know that his widely reported ultimatum must have been received by the intended audience.
Lahore may be Sharifs’ stronghold, but it was here that Imran launched his electoral campaign in 2013 at the biggest-ever public rally in the provincial metropolis. Of course his party – even when its Lahore base is presently split on the issue of party tickets – has the potential and wherewithal to stage a sit-in opposite the Sharifs’ residential compound at Raiwind.
But the question whether or not Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would stoop to Imran Khan’s ultimatum still needs an answer. Given his habitual defiance – irrespective of their costly consequences – he may not. But that would be a losing option. His best option would be to go for a CJP-headed investigation commission. In the light of emerging information on how the offshore investment outfits operate, it becomes exceedingly clear that any amount of effort, through a judicial commission or an officially-conducted inquiry, to hunt out the culprits and hold them guilty will not produce productive conclusions.
First and foremost, given absence of any tax-information sharing protocol between the state of Panama and Pakistan, the Panamanian government is under no obligation to grant information if and when sought. Then having accounts abroad doesn’t mean tax evasion either, much less a case of money laundering. Quintessentially, it is an issue which falls in the realm of legality or otherwise of keeping secreted assets abroad, and therefore of no serious concern to the non-political class of offshore asset-holders.
But for those who hold public offices or aspire to be in that position, such as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and many others in the national politics belong, keeping undeclared offshore investments is not only unethical, improper but legally wounding too. The holder of a public office can be duly investigated on matters relating to transfer of money to foreign countries from Pakistan and, also how he or she earned that money. According to some experts, since transfer of money earned through bribery or terrorist activities is an offence, investigations into investment in offshore secret coffers should be no problem.
By refusing to go for an independent investigation by a commission headed by the incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan, the prime minister would be earning the stigma of guilty conscience. On the other hand, by agreeing to set up a CJP-led inquiry commission he would be not only evading possibility of another dharna but also a likely chance of getting a clean chit by the country’s highest judicial authority as he claims clean hands.
Source: Business Recorder