Opposition protest moves into high gear

WEB DESK: The joint opposition staged a walkout from the National Assembly on Monday, saying they would not participate in the proceedings until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif comes to the House to explain his position on the Panama papers.

Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah while speaking on the ‘Panama Papers’ on the floor of the house said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif must come to the House to take the representatives of the people into confidence on this issue.

He said the Parliament is an appropriate forum for the Prime Minister to explain his position on the issue of the ‘Panama Papers’.

“The Prime Minister should clear his position on the floor of the Parliament instead of addressing the nation on television and public gatherings. We will not sit here and not become part of the proceedings until the Prime Minster comes to the House to explain his position in relation to the issue,” he said.

He said, “we want accountability of all those named in the Panama Papers irrespective of their affiliations with different political parties and we stand by our stance.”

He claimed that Terms of Reference (ToRs) of the opposition are not Prime Minister-specific, rather would be equally applicable to all those named in the Panama Papers.

Khursheed Shah said the opposition adopted a proper way and sent ToRs to the Prime Minister. He said that opposition is trying to avoid any anarchy in the country. He said the opposition was ready to hold talks with the government for the preparation of Terms of Reference (ToRs) on the Panama leaks-proposed commission.

He said the opposition would agree to the inclusion of issues of taking kickbacks, corruption and waiving off loans in the ToRs of the Panama Leaks probe commission.

The Opposition Leader said, “We are going to walk out from the House, we will come when the Prime Minster will come in the House.”

After it, representatives of all the opposition parties staged a walkout from the House. The government members unsuccessfully persuaded the opposition to bring them back in the National Assembly.

PTI deputy parliamentary leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the Prime Minister had addressed the nation twice through Pakistan television and was now addressing public gatherings in different cities to explain his position on the Panama papers. “All these addresses have failed to convince the nation as the Prime Minister is not ready to come to the Parliament to take the nation into confidence,” he said.

He demanded the Prime Minister to come to the Parliament and give answers to all the questions regarding the Panama leaks. Qureshi said the Panama Papers’ issue is being discussed across the world and “we also want investigation of all the people named in the Panama Papers, including the Prime Minister.”

He said the government has rejected all Terms of Reference (ToRs) charted out unanimously by the joint opposition even without examining them. “The government has constituted a committee to negotiate with the opposition parties on the ToRs and we hope to find a solution to the controversy,” he added.

He also criticised the government for spending ‘billions of rupees’ on advertisements to clarify the position of the Prime Minister and his children regarding the Panama leaks.

“If you (Prime Minister) don’t come to the Parliament to explain your position on the Panama Papers, then the nation will be right to think there is something fishy,” he said.

MQM MNA Dr Farooq Sattar said that his party also supports the opposition’s viewpoint on the Panama Papers; therefore the party members would not speak on it.

Responding to all these points, PML-N MNA Daniyal Aziz said the opposition should have given suggestions on the issue instead of levelling allegations. The government is willing to constitute a judicial commission to probe all the allegations against the Sharif family and that’s why elaborate ToRs have been formulated for the commission, he said.

Members from Federally Administered Tribal Areas also staged a walkout from the House and urged the government to upgrade teachers from the area as they have been protesting against the discrimination.

Talking to media outside the Parliament House, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said the opposition parties would continue boycott of the House till the Premier comes to Parliament.

He asked Prime Minister to submit details of his assets and income tax from 1985 with the Parliament. According to him, some ministers are scaring the PM; however, there is no need to be afraid of if their hands are clean.

He warned that any attempt to tamper with FBR records would be resisted. He said that Opposition ToRs call for an across-the-board accountability but it should begin from the PM.

Ahsan asked why the Prime Minister does not take the Parliament into confidence about the Panama leaks. He further said that opposition will keep staging walkouts till PM Nawaz Sharif does not explain to Parliament his position in relation to allegations in the Panama leaks.

About Secretary Finance of Balochistan, Aitzaz said he was arrested for amassing Rs 700 million secretly, while “those who are hiding Rs 7 billion were not being arrested.”

Sheikh Rasheed chief of Pakistan Awami Muslim League appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to give a decision about ToRs and save the system from total collapse. – Business Recorder