Dar asks opposition to help formulate consensus law for probing corruption

ISLAMABAD, Sept 2 (APP): Stressing political unity on economy, security and energy issues, Finance Minister, Muhammad Ishaq Dar on Friday reiterated government’s reconciliation offer and asked the opposition to join hands for formulating a consensus law to probe alleged corruption.

“Today, the treasury benches have laid Pakistan Commission
of Inquiry Bill 2016 in the light of observations made by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to conduct an inquiry into any definite matter of public importance,” he said while addressing a press conference in Punjab House here.

Flanked by Federal Minister for Law and Justice,
Zahid Hamid, Minister of State for Information Technology (IT), Anusha Rehman, Minister for Ports and Shipping, Mir Hasil Bezenjo and Minister for Housing and Works, Akram Durrani, he said, the opposition had also presented a separate private bill on the subject in the Senate which would be tabled in the house next week.

“We have been asking the opposition parties to put heads
together to evolve consensus on law to probe Panama papers, land grabbing and written off loans, but they responded with a specific mindset and targets,” he added.

He said, the government intend to make Terms of Reference
(TORs) to probe all types of corruption, but opposition always tried to restrict it to Panama papers as it wanted to protect some of their stalwarts who owned offshore companies.

The minister said, all the clauses of the
original Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act 1956 had been retained in the new bill while the government had empowered a 60 years old toothless law by incorporating new clauses.

He said, after the passage of new bill, certain change could
be made in the TORs of the commission to probe Panama papers issue.

Senator Ishaq Dar said, all the federal and
provincial institutions were bound to assist the inquiry commission to be formed after the passage of new bill.
Responding to a question, he said, the government always
believed in reconciliation with opposition parties.

He, however, said, the opposition parties should
shun negative politics and come forward to work with the government to take the country on road to economic stability and public welfare.

He said, the people had rejected politics of agitation in the
past and would also continue to do so in future believing it as undemocratic tendency.

Senator Ishaq Dar said, the opposition on the one hand
had moved Supreme Court, Election Commission and the Speaker National Assembly to probe alleged corruption and on the other, it was taking to streets.

Senator Ishaq Dar said, in the past, the opposition
had inflicted colossal losses to the country and national economy by staging protest rallies and sit ins.

He said, the world community acknowledged that Pakistan’s
economy was in take off stage and the country would join the world’s top ten economies by 2050, though the opposition was trying to decelerate the development pace.
While asking the opposition to come out of specific frame of
mind, he said, the nation had reposed confidence into the policies of the government during general election of Azad Kashmir and recently held bye polls in Jhelum and Vehari.

Answering a question, he said, the Pakistan Commission of
Inquiry Bill 2016 could be passed in the joint sitting of the
parliament in case it was rejected by the Upper House.

Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid said that the main
aim of moving Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Bill, 2016 in the National Assembly was to ensure across the board accountability of the corrupt.

He said executive authorities of the country including
provincial governments had been compelled in the bill to help commission in discharging its functions.

Criticizing opposition’s bill, recently moved in the Senate, he
said the opposition wanted accountability of only the prime minister.

Highlighting salient features of Pakistan Commission of
Inquiry Bill 2016, he said the commission would have powers
mentioned in 1956 Act, including powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908; powers to authorize entry, search and seizure; powers to order police investigation and power to punish for contempt, etc.

The commission has been delegated enhanced powers including powers to constitute international teams, seek international teams, and seek international co operation from foreign countries or agencies to get information, documents and evidence etc, power to issue letters of request to foreign judicial authorities for recording evidence and such other powers deemed necessary for conducting the inquiry.

The final or interim reports of the Commission would be made public, he added.

Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bazinjo said
the government’s committee on Terms of Reference (ToR) was trying its best to unanimously bring a law for constituting a commission on Panama leaks to look after all the matters.

Hasil Khan said that the opposition committee was not serious from the very beginning and targeting only one person.

He said that the ToRs committee of opposition parties was only focusing on the Panama leaks and not corruption and the persons who looted the country through various means.

Minister for Housing and Works Akram Khan Durrani said that
ToR committee of opposition parties had given different statements of the meeting with the government committee.

“The opposition parties were not united on the ToR,” the
minister remarked.

He said that the media and nation were clear about the stance of the government and opposition parties on the investigation of Panama papers.

The minister said the opposition parties were only targeting
the prime minister and left the persons who had written off their loans and looted the country.