As the leaders of two major opposition parties in Parliament, PPP’s Syed Khursheed Shah and PTI chief Imran Khan, had a duty to demand answers from the Prime Minister about the Panama Papers revelations regarding his children’s involvement in offshore companies – an issue that has generated an international tempest.
Unfortunately, the government response has been to deflect attention from the real issue by levelling counter-allegations against the two leaders.
Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and some others in the ruling party have since been repeatedly implicating the charitable Shaukat Khanum cancer hospital built by Imran to accuse him of investing the hospital’s endowment fund in an offshore company and causing loss worth millions even though the medical facility is not his personal property.
The arguments have been descending lower and lower with the Information Minister warning the PTI leader to stop demanding transparency about the involvement of the PM’s children in the Panama leaks scandal, or else his own sons will be dragged into a dirty war of words.
And also that if the PTI stages its planned protest sit-in outside the PM’s Raiwind Road residence in Lahore, PML-N activists would do likewise at his former wife’s residence in London. He, of course, did not explain what she has to do with the issue at hand.
If that was not bad enough Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan jumped into the fray resorting to equally preposterous arguments. Speaking in the National Assembly the other day, he brandished the threat “I have several files against opposition leader Khursheed Shah, including NAB files.” Later at a press conference, he said, he would expose Imran’s personal activities.
This is plain blackmail. The general thrust of the government’s line of defence amounts to saying never mind if we are corrupt so are other politicians. That is a sad comment on the state of morality that is being projected. If the interior and information ministers are in possession of incriminating evidence against these politicians, it is their duty towards the people on whose behalf the PM exercises state power to take legal action through relevant forums.
The government cannot level such grave allegations of corruption against the Leader of the Opposition and the chief of the PTI, the second largest party in Parliament (in terms of popular vote), and do nothing about it. The line of offence rather than defence the ruling party has adopted shows it is least interested in establishing the rule of law, suggesting also that politicians ought to cover up one another’s acts of omission and commission.
It is worthwhile to note an important aside in the Interior Minister threat to Khursheed Shah that he is in possession of NAB files.
In so doing he has inadvertently admitted that the accountability bureau is a mere handmaiden of the executive that can be used at will against pesky oppositionists, thereby lending validity to the PTI’s stance that a judicial commission appointed by the government to investigate the Panama leaks scandal through government agencies cannot be trusted, and that it would be acceptable only if conducted by a commission headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan with the help of a foreign forensic audit company.
Source: Business Recorder