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PLM-N rejected PPP-sponsored bill demanding inquiry into Panama Papers

17 May, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The PML-N-led majority legislators in the National Assembly on Tuesday rejected a PPP-sponsored bill demanding an inquiry into every Pakistani named in the Panama Papers, saying there was no need for such proceedings as the matter had already been taken up by the Supreme Court.

Federal Minister for Law Zahid Hamid strongly opposed the bill tabled by PPP’s Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, saying, “Supreme Court has already ruled on the matter  there is no need for this bill anymore.”

He said that the bill formulated by the opposition was discriminatory in nature and was designed against the prime minister. He said that Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Bill had already been passed by the both the houses which would look into investigation of other persons named in Panama Papers.

Naveed Qamar maintained that the bill should not be rejected merely because the words ‘Panama Papers’ have been used in it. “Court case deals only with one family while this bill will open the doors of inquiry into everyone named in the Panama Papers,” he said, adding the Panama Papers contained the names of at least 300 Pakistanis who have not be pursued by NAB or the FIA so far.

The bill was rejected after a vast majority in the National Assembly voted against it.

Although the PPP had succeeded in getting the bill passed from the Upper House of the parliament, it failed to get it cleared by the Lower House as PML-N strongly opposed their move. Interestingly, the PPP enjoyed the support of main opposition party PTI over the bill.

The Panama Papers Inquiries Bill, 2016, was passed by Senate in December last year.

On points of order, opposition members demanded that inquiry report into Dawn Leaks should be presented before parliament. They said that parliament was the supreme institution and all the matters should be discussed in it.

PTI leader Shireen Mazari said that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had termed the matter against national security and put all the blame on Tariq Fatemi. She said Tariq Fatemi has already rejected allegations leveled against him.

Mazari said issues pertaining to national security were settled behind the curtains and nobody knows about the details. She said if it was not the matter of national security then corps commanders and the interior minister should withdraw from their stand. She asked if Dawn’s story was fake then who had planted it.

PTI’s Asad Umar said that decision on Dawn Leaks issue should be taken in parliament as the report has defamed the country’s name at international level.

The House witnessed introduction of 12 Private Members’ bills which were forwarded to the relevant committees for further deliberations.

Five bills were deferred and as many were rejected while three bills were withdrawn by their respective movers and one was dropped due to mover’s absence.

The National Assembly also passed a resolution strongly condemning the recent killings in Gwadar and Kharan. The resolution moved by Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch expressed heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved families. It urged the federal and provincial governments to use all available resources to trace the culprits and bring them to justice.

Earlier, responding to a calling attention notice, Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary said that a survey is being carried out in Islamabad to assess the requirement of new schools in the capital territory.

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