Panama Pa­pers dead­lock

Enterprise - - Letters -

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,

Karachi.

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