Shah Mahmood Qureshi

5th meeting of 12-member committee on Panama leaks remains inconclusive

ISLAMABAD: The 5th meeting of the parliamentary committee preparing the terms of reference (ToRs) for an investigation into the Panama leaks remained inconclusive on Saturday.The opposition said no headway had been made and there was a deadlock. It said that only the government side presented ToRs to the committee at Saturday’s meeting. The opposition will give its reaction to government’s ToRs during Tuesday’s meeting, after consulting legal experts on them.

On the other hand, the government said there was no deadlock at any stage. The government said it did not want any concessions for the family of the prime minister or anyone else. The government said that it wanted to move forward along with the opposition. The committee met on Saturday at the Parliament House and all opposition and government members attended the meeting except Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, committee member from the government side.

Talking to the media outside the Parliament House after the meeting, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the opposition had handed over its ToRs to the government that contained 15 questions. He said the government had sought time from the opposition to respond to the ToRs. He said that now government’s stance on opposition’s ToRs had come to the fore. He said the opposition had decided to have consultations on government’s ToRs and reply to them at the next meeting of the committee. “We want to reach a consensus on the ToRs through talks,” he said.

“We respect the speaker of the National Assembly and he provided an opportunity to government and opposition members to sit together in his chambers. He wants the talks to move forward. Khurshid Shah, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, is also trying to take the matter forward. But let the committee do its job without any interference,” he added. Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq said the Supreme Court had not rejected government ToRs. “We respect Supreme Court’s opinion. The government wants to move ahead along with the opposition. There is no deadlock between the government and the opposition. The government has presented a document to the committee and the opposition has sought time to respond to the document,” Rafiq said. “We are pursuing this stance from the very first day that ToRs should not be one man-centric,” he explained.

Tariq Bashir Cheema said that everybody should be held accountable in line with the ToRs suggested by the opposition, but the accountability should begin from the prime minister’s family. After a consultative meeting of the opposition, Ahsan told the media, “We are going to speaker’s chamber with an open heart, but the government does not want meaningful accountability. The government members do not want accountability of the prime minister and his family.”


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