Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (Staff Report) – Opposition parties’ committee to finalise Terms of References (ToRs) in Panama leaks commission divided on whether they should ask the prime minister to step down until the judicial inquiry is concluded, however all the parties reached consensus on various points of ToRs.

Representatives of different opposition parties met for the second time in two consecutive days. Both the meetings were held at Opposition Leader in the Senate, Aitzaz Ahsan’s residence in the federal capital.

The committee has demanded the government to establish a commission using a presidential ordinance. Participants of the meeting agreed that international forensic audit experts should be tasked with Panama leaks probe.

While talking to the media, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed said that the committee has agreed on a total of 15 points. He said that six parties are in favour of demanding the Prime Minister to resign while two are against it. Opposition has agreed on giving judicial commission three-month time period to probe Panama leaks against Sharif family.

According to the TORs, a copy of which is available with Geo News, the opposition has agreed to press the government for a special law – the “PANAMA PAPERS (INQUIRY AND TRIAL) ACT, 2016” – to be passed to facilitate the investigation into the assets, foreign and domestic, of the prime minister and all other Pakistanis named in the Panama Papers.

The joint opposition would call for the constitution of a special judicial commission headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan and comprising of two other Supreme Court judges to be nominated by the Chief Justice.

“The Commission may appoint a committee of experts…in international forensic audit to carry out an exhaustive investigation and audit into the offshore companies and their accounts owned by the Respondent and his family including all transactions, sales and purchases of all assets, moveable and immoveable, including stocks, shares, debentures and equitable or benami interests, opening and operation of all bank accounts, including offshore bank accounts and incorporation of all companies including offshore companies whether directly or behind corporate veil(s) wherever in the world they may be,” read a copy of the terms of reference.

The commission will also be tasked to verify the money trail and how funds were provided for such offshore companies.

The act passed will provide for “an irrebuttable presumption of guilt” if those being investigated refuse or fail to facilitate of authorize the probe.

Those being investigated shall bear the burden of proving, if ownership of such assets or offshore companies is established, that it was lawfully acquired through legitimate sources and funds.

“Before the Commission enters upon any Inquiry, the Respondents (starting with the Prime Minister his Family as volunteered by himself) shall place all and complete information of all their worldwide moveable and immoveable assets and interests in properties, benami, beneficial, offshore or otherwise held at any time since 1985 along with full details of the Income,” read the terms of reference agreed upon by the joint opposition.