Parliamentary body agrees on preamble of ToRs

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ISLAMABAD, May 26 (APP): The Parliamentary Committee, constituted to formulate Terms of Reference (ToRs) on Panama Papers, Thursday held its second in-camera meeting and discussed points of both the government and opposition sides.

“The opposition circulated another document titled ‘Joint Opposition’s submission on ToRs’ among the members of the committee, to which comments of the government side will be furnished in the next meeting,” said a press release.

The committee in principle agreed on the preamble of the ToRs of the inquiry commission to be constituted in pursuance of the motions adopted by both Houses of the Parliament.

“However, the differences on the wording of the ToRs remain and will be discussed in subsequent meetings,” it added.

Meanwhile, in a brief talk to reporters after the meeting, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said out of 15, two points of the opposition parties had been removed from the list.

However, he said, there was an agreement on initial framework of the ToRs and in the next phase detailed discussion would be held on them.

Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique said the meeting was held in a pleasant environment with the understanding that no one could move forward without dialogue, whether it was the government or the opposition.

“We have to move forward with the consensus instead of any ambiguity,” he said and made it clear that there was no deadlock in advancing the committee’s proceeding.

Saad said the Supreme Court had not rejected the government ToRs rather it had its own point of view and “We will move forward in its light.”

He said there was a unanimity that the ToRs should not be any personality-specific and expressed confidence that the democracy would emerge victorious.

The minister said the government was ever-ready to hold dialogue on the ToRs.

He said Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid was the ex-officio member as per the Parliamentary Committee’s notification.

Saad said there should be no violation of any law, adding that legal action should be taken against whosoever found committing the violation.

Earlier, Leader of Opposition in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan said the
opposition parties were participating in the parliamentary committee meeting openheartedly.

He said there was consensus on four points of the initial framework of ToRs and second phase of the draft would be finalized on Friday.

Aitzaz said the opposition parties had offered the government to withdraw two points, out of 15 it submitted before the committee.

“We have asked the government to include their points as much as it wants after our 13 questions. We will have no objection over it,” he remarked.

Senior leader of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the opposition’s 15 questions were not meaningless.

He said the opposition parties had reservation over the government’s ToRs and they had been conveyed in the meeting.

“We will not compromise on the basic issues. Ambiguous ToRs are not acceptable,” he said.

He said point-to-point discussion had been initiated on the ToRs, adding that the committee wanted to make the inquiry on Panama Papers result-oriented.

Qureshi said the government side was of the view that personalities should not be targetted in the ToRs, and “We agreed.”

Senators Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Aitzaz Ahsan, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Muhammad Ali Saif and Ilyas Ahmad Bilour; and Members of the National Assembly Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Anusha Rehman Khan Advocate, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi, Sahibzada Tariq Ullah and Chaudhry Tariq Bashir Cheema attended the meeting as members of the committee.

Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid also attended the meeting as ex-officio member of the Committee.

The committee will meet again on Friday at 11:00 am.