ISLAMABAD: The opposition said on Wednesday that negotiations on the Panamagate scandal could only resume if the government softened its stance on the issue, reiterating that any inquiry must begin with the ruling Sharif family.
The offer came as leader of the opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan warned that more political parties would ‘soon’ join Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s ongoing protest campaign over the Panama Papers issue. He said this while speaking to journalists outside the Parliament House after opposition leaders met National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on Wednesday.
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has tasked Sadiq to convince the opposition parties to return to a parliamentary committee set up to draft unanimous Terms of Reference for an inquiry into the Panamagate scandal.
The Panama Papers revealed earlier this year that three members of the Sharif family were among hundreds of world politicians and businessmen who had secrete their money in offshore companies to evade taxes.
Subsequently, the opposition demanded an inquiry into the matter claiming that the money had been laundered. However, after eight meetings of the parliamentary committee, talks between the government and the opposition to thrash out ToRs for a probe failed on June 14.
“Now, the opposition has nothing to offer. We have already extended due concessions to the government,” Ahsan said, reiterating that the combined opposition will accept nothing less than an inquiry which starts from Premier Nawaz and his family. Despite the premier’s declaration of presenting himself for accountability, Ahsan claimed members of the government’s team in the committee had the single-point agenda of ‘saving the PM and his children from investigation at any cost’. He added that Sadiq would now convey their reservations to Nawaz.
Meanwhile, PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi accused the government of trying to create rifts among the nine-party opposition bloc. The PTI leader said the opposition parties would consult on attending the ninth meeting of the parliamentary committee and inform the government about their decision.
Aftab Ahmed Sherpao, chief of his eponymous faction of Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), has urged the opposition and government to resolve the matter within existing framework. “Both sides have no option but to resolve the matter within acceptable democratic norms,” Sherpao told The Express Tribune. The QWP is part of nine-party grand opposition alliance.
Most of the political parties in this bloc, including the PPP, PTI, PML-Q, JI and APML, support the idea of starting investigations from Nawaz and his family members.