Bill on Panama Papers leaks introduced in Senate

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ISLAMABAD, Sept 26 (APP): The Senate on Monday granted leave to move a private members bill seeking constitution of a commission to probe Panama Papers leaks with 32 members voting in its favour and 19 against.

The bill was moved to the House by Leader of the Opposition
Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and opposition members and sent to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice after majority members voted in its favour.

Introducing the bill, Aitzaz Hassan said he might be allowed to introduce the bill as opposition was not rigid and amendments could be made to it at a later stage.

He said the existing laws in the country lacked scope to probe the Panama Papers. The revelations were not brought out by the opposition rather an independent investigative journalists body had published those leaks, he added.

He said the particular piece of the legislation had been drafted cautiously to remove the impression altogether that it was politically-motivated or a person-specific.

Opposing the bill, Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid Khan said it was a latently discriminatory law with an effort to rope in the Prime Minister whose name was not even mentioned in the Panama Papers.

“It is one person-specific bill with a limited scope excluding Imran Khan, Jehangir Tareen, Aleem or those who had received kickbacks and got written off bank loans.”

The bill, the minister added, would not help prevent illegal practices in future as it said nothing about the recent Behamas leaks.

“This bill is one-sided, specifically designed to the Panama Papers and riddled with politically-motivated clauses.”
He said the government had already introduced a bill in the National Assembly following the Supreme Court’s directives that current laws on Commission of Inquiry were toothless.

He said the government had always made sincere efforts to probe not only the Panama Papers leaks but all corrupt practices of the past and that might take place in future.

As part of such efforts, the minister said, motions were introduced in both the houses seeking formation of a parliamentary committee comprising members of the opposition and treasury benches.

Following which, he added, the parliamentary committee was constituted, which had eight meetings but no consensus was evolved unfortunately.

Thus, there was no need to let the bill be introduced as it did not sincerely fulfill the purpose to stop ill-practices presently or in future, he added.

The Chairman then put the motion seeking permission to move the bill to the House. As 32 members voted in its favour, he referred the bill to the standing committee concerned.