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PM’s aides discuss opposition’s demand

PM’s aides discuss opposition’s demand

ISLAMABAD: Legal advi­sers to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif started a formal consultative process on Friday in order to prepare a written response to the Term of Reference (ToR) which an alliance of opposition parties has formulated for investigations into the Panama Papers leaks.

Upon return of Ishaq Dar, the prime minister’s troubleshooter, from abroad, the issue was briefly discussed before Mr Sharif left for a one-day visit to Sukkur in the morning.

However, in the evening, Senator Dar had a detailed sitting with Law Minister Zahid Hamid, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali, and special assistant to the Prime Minister, Barrister Zafarullah Khan.

As per the discussions, the government has decided to point out legal and constitutional lacunas in the opposition-framed ToR, and to convey them in writing to the opposition through Syed Khursheed Shah, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, a government source told Dawn.

Mr Shah, with the consent of a nine-party alliance, forwarded the ToRs to the prime minister on Thursday.

After the written reply, a government committee will be formed to negotiate with the opposition alliance. There is a likelihood that Senator Dar will lead the initiative unless he is busy with preparation of the budget.

It was Finance Minister Ishaq Dar who headed the government team in talks with the PTI for the constitution of an inquiry commission to probe the party’s allegation that the 2013 general election had been rigged.

The then chief justice-led commission gave its findings in favour of the government, rejecting the PTI’s claims that the PML-N had manipulated the results.

Interestingly, this time the PPP-led alliance is demanding a similar special commission through a presidential ordinance, but the issue is altogether different _ three children of the prime minister are facing allegations of money laundering, tax evasion and corruption.

“With the collective demand of nine opposition parties to bring the prime minister and his three children to the dock, this time it will be a tough call for Senator Dar. Let’s see how he manages the crisis,” a lawmaker of the ruling party said.

On the other hand, it was none other than Supreme Court lawyer Senator Aitzaz Ahsan of the PPP who had led the lawyers’ movement against former president Pervez Musharraf with acclaim in 2007.

Senator Dar, who is known for his negotiating skills, has already started charting out a strategy to win over opposition parties in anticipation of an acrimonious sparring over the Panama leaks in coming days.

On Friday, he called MQM parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar, ensuring the federal government’s support to meet the demands of justice in the case of his coordinator who died in the custody of Sindh Rangers.

The MQM is the third largest party in the Panamagate specific-opposition alliance after PPP and PTI.

PTI Chairman: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan on Friday yet again presented himself for an investigation into his assets.

Talking to media before leaving for Umra, the PTI leader said: “I find it amusing that instead of offering himself for accountability, the prime minister has started addressing public meetings.

“Someone must make the prime minister understand that it wasn’t Imran Khan, but the International Consortium of Journalists which broke the story of his children owning offshore companies in British Virgin Islands.”

In reply to queries about his party men having similar companies abroad, Mr Khan reiterated his stance that he was for across-the-board accountability, but it must start from the top. “Let’s start investigations from you (PM).”

Berating JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman for joining hands with the prime minister, Mr Khan said: “Every time I talk about corruption they start making noise that democracy is in danger.”

The PTI chief said after exhausting all options he would head towards Raiwind. “Following the Panama leaks, political parties stand divided into two groups: one hiding its corruption and the other clamouring for investigations. How come peaceful demonstrations can be called terrorism,” Mr Khan said

in a retort to Nawaz Sharif’s observations earlier in the day that “there is no difference between terrorists and those staging demonstrations”.

Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2016

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