Panama Papers deadlock
To the surprise of nobody, the government has decided to reject the terms of reference (ToR) proposed by the opposition parties for the judicial inquiry into the Panama Papers. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has said that the target of opposition parties was Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and not corruption. Apparently, the prime minister is “being insulted” and the opposition has no real desire to get to the truth. This is palpable nonsense. The release of the Panama Papers raises a range of questions about the Sharif family and how it acquired its wealth, from where and what it was utilised for. These questions must be asked even if they are difficult to answer. The Sharif family cannot expect blanket immunity from investigation simply because it is the Sharif family. Nobody is above the law and if there has been wrongdoing, then it needs to be exposed.
The opposition’s ToRs focused primarily on the prime minister and his family because that is where the focus needs to be. The prime minister holds the highest elected office in the land and as such must expect to be held to a level of accountability and transparency that places him and those around him beyond reproach. It is not enough to say ‘I did no wrong’ — the prime minister has to prove beyond a shred of doubt that this was truly the case and that he really did no wrong. Until he does that, there is always going to be the taint of suspicion, in which circumstance he joins probably the majority of serving and past parliamentarians in Pakistan, corruption being as ubiquitous as it is. The PML-N is reportedly going to form a committee to negotiate the ToRs with the opposition, once again kicking the issue into the long grass. The assertion that the prime minister has “showed his sincerity” by agreeing to a judicial investigation holds no water as the ToRs formulated by the government ensured an open-ended, catch-all process that was unlikely ultimately to catch anybody or anything.
Syed Bushra Saeed,