MQM trying to extract relief from embattled PM?

ISLAMABAD: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) insistence on being part of the parliamentary committee to formulate the terms of reference (TORs) for a judicial commission to provide the Panama papers has left political analysts baffled.

MQM has long been seeking assistance from the federal government to get relief in the ongoing Rangers operation in Karachi, but so far without success, stated political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi; he added that the federal government is not in a position to provide any relief to the MQM as the ongoing Karachi operation is in the hands of the Rangers and other law enforcement agencies.

The joint opposition in the National Assembly and Senate agreed to include the MQM’s nominee, Barrister Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, in the parliamentary committee constituted to formulate terms of references (ToRs) to probe the Panama leaks.

Rizvi acknowledged that the MQM can play the role of a spoiler for the opposition, or as a key player assisting in formulating unanimous ToRs.

Talking to Business Recorder, MQM MNA, S. A. Iqbal Qadri, stated that his party would provide input in the ToRs committee; however, he added, it is premature to say if his party would side with the government.

“We are part of the opposition and we want an across-the-board accountability,” he said. Qadri, however, rejected the notion that his party was trying to extract relief from the government. “If we wanted to get something from the government, we would have been sitting on the treasury benches in the National Assembly,” he said.

The legal fraternity has urged the parliamentary committee to agree on the ToRs within two weeks otherwise it would be forced to launch a movement and/or to move the country’s top court against the federal government.

“The legal community believes that the inquiry on the Panama Papers must be restricted to parliamentarians and holders of public office as they have to conform to the requirements of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution,” it said.

Talking about writeen off loans, Supreme Court Advocate Ahsanuddin Shaikh said the matter is already pending with the Supreme Court for adjudication.

He said if the government or anybody else wants to pursue such cases, then the Supreme Court should be moved on the issue instead of including this matter in the TORs being formulated for the commission on the Panama leaks.

The Supreme Court took suo motu notice of written off loans in 2008 that were reportedly approved in October 2002. Some Rs 54 billion owed to commercial banks by some politicians, bureaucrats and others was written off during the General Musharraf’s regime.

Talking about ban on speeches and addresses of the MQM chief Altaf Hussain, Shaikh said the federal government is not party to the case and cannot offer any incentive or relief to the MQM.

He said that Lahore High Court had banned live speeches of the MQM chief on a petition filed by independent lawyers in Lahore, so Advocate General Punjab is not in a position to favour the MQM.