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Sheikh Rashid seeks Memogate-style commission for Panamagate

By Malik Asad 2016-09-24
ISLAMABAD: Disappointed with the way the Panamagate issue was sidestepped in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has asked the Supreme Court to constitute an inquiry commission along the lines of the Memogate Commission to investigate the allegations levelled against the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The Awami Muslim League (AML) leader filed on Friday a petition requesting the Supreme Court to restrain PM Sharif from holding the office of prime minister `in the interest of equity and justice`.

Mr Rashid had boycotted PAC proceedings on Sept 20 after taking exceptiontoLawandJusticeSecretary Karamat Hussain Niazi`s opinion that the committee did not have the jurisdiction to take suo motu action on the Panama Papers leaks.

Citing precedence, he points out in the petition that an `inquiry commis-sion had been constituted in the past`.

`[The] Memogate Commission was constituted with the intervention of this honourable court, which prepared and produced a report before this high arbitrator of justice.

However, it is worth noting that while the Memogate Commission submitted its report to the apex court in 2013, the matter is still pending adjudication.

At the PAC meeting, the heads of the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, State Bank of Pakistan and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan expressed their helplessness to investigate Panamagate due to limits on their powers under respective laws.

In his petition, Mr Rashid points out that since the relevant state institutions were reluctant to investigate the matter, `it is suggested that for transparency, an independent, potent, all-powerful and all-embracing inquiry commission was the requirement of the time as the prime minister is the head of the state and is [also] personally involved in the leaks`.

In the petition, Mr Rashid named Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the federal secretaries of law and justice, establishment division, as well as the heads of the National Accountability Bureau and Federal Board of Revenueas respondents.

He contended that `the foremost requirement of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution is that the person holding the of fice should be sagacious, righteous, honest` and the proposed `inquiry on Panama leaks [will] not only clear non-sagacious and corrupt people from high public offices, but will also discourage corrupt practices in these offices`.

In his petition, the AML leader pointed out that the joint opposition had tried to resolve the matter politically, but the government `being in power and beneficiary, is [determined] to delay the inquiries and resultant actions against public office holders`.

The petition alleged that the credibility of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif following the revelations contained in the Panama Papers stood `shattered and stooped to such a low level that governancein the countryis boundto be paralysed if prompt action is not taken in this regard`.

The Supreme Court has already rejected two similar petitions, one filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the other by the Jamaat-i-Islami, for being `frivolous`. In both cases, the court`s registrar had objected to the fact that the petitioners directly approached the Supreme Court instead of going to a high court first.