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PML-N decided to talk with Opp on Panama leaks

08 May, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: The ruling PML-N and its coalition partners on Saturday decided to hold consultations with the opposition on the issue of investigation into revelations made by the Panama Papers and the terms of reference (ToRs) proposed by the combined opposition in this regard.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has tasked Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to contact the opposition leaders after JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman refused to lead the government’s negotiation team, saying he would play only as a facilitator in this matter.

It was decided at the meeting of the coalition partners chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister’s House that the government would form a committee to hold talks with the opposition. The committee would also have Mehmood Khan Achakzai and Ijazul Haq as members, besides a nominee of the JUI-F. Expressing reservations over the terms of reference proposed by the opposition for the Panama inquiry, the meeting observed that their ToRs aimed at targeting the prime minister only and lacked seriousness on the whole.

Speaking at the meeting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said opposition’s demands were growing with each passing day although he had already written a letter to the Supreme Court for formation of a judicial commission to investigate the matter. He said that the government would not tolerate any conspiracy against democracy, especially in the guise of accountability.

The prime minister consulted with his partners on the proposal of convening a joint session of parliament on the issue. The meeting also discussed proposal that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should directly contact PPP chief Asif Zardari and take him into confidence over government-opposition talks on the Panama investigation. It needs to be mentioned here that Nawaz Sharif keeps a soft corner for the PPP and has already made contact with PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari on the issue of Panama leaks. During his London visit too, the prime minister consulted with Asif Zardari on the current political scenario and it appears that he is pursuing the ‘Zardari formula’ while dealing with the present crisis. The prime minister wants to isolate PTI as soon as possible and has suggested to his coalition partners that they should take all the political parties on board on the issue of Panama leaks but the PTI.

It has been learnt that the prime minister has decided to give another ministry to the JUI-F in reward for its support to the government on the issue of Panama leaks. Nawaz Sharif praised Maulana Fazlur Rehman during the Saturday’s meeting for his support to the government and made him sit next to him throughout the meeting. Fazl told the prime minister not to worry as he had already made contacts with several opposition leaders on the Panama issue and that they all had positive views in this regard. He told the prime minister that media attention will be diverted after the second episode of Panama leaks appears on May 9.

The prime minister while expressing his dissatisfaction over Information Minister Pervez Rashid’s inability to thwart the opposition propaganda said that even though the government had several media cells working round the clock and was doling out money on the advertisement campaign, yet the opposition was more visible everywhere.

Later, talking to reporters along with Mir Hasil Bizenjo of the National Party and Ejazul Haq, Fazlur Rehman said the opposition’s ToRs were in contradiction to the constitution and the law. He regretted that opposition parties had adopted a contradictory stance on the investigation of Panama leaks. He said the prime minister first announced formation of the commission under supervision of a retired judge but the opposition did not agree to it and made it controversial. He said it was a matter of surprise that the opposition was ready to get the investigation done by a retired bureaucrat but not by a retired judge. He said the opposition parties should make demands while remaining within the norms of democratic traditions.

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