ISLAMABAD - The opposition members in the Parliamentary Committee on Panama Papers would be meeting after the eighth sitting of the committee to devise future strategy in the face of the government’s lack of interest to break the impasse on the terms of reference for probing the matter.

Sources aware of the developments taking place on this front informed The Nation that opposition parties have divergent viewpoints on the issue with some parties pressing for boycott of the committee’s proceedings as they saw it just wastage of time in the face of non-committal attitude of the government negotiators while the others wanted to continue persuading the government to bring them to some common ground.

One of the members of the opposition team was not much hopeful of any breakthrough in the eighth sitting, keeping in view the track record of the government members in the panel, but still he insisted not to quit the committee which, according to him, would give the impression of opposition’s walking away from the dialogue that would bring bad name to the opposition parties.

While PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi was of the view that sitting in the Parliamentary Committee on Panama Papers is just wastage of time, as the government was trying to save the Prime Minister and his family from probe into their offshore accounts and foreign properties at any cost. So under these circumstances, it is futile exercise as the government negotiating team will not accept the Joint Opposition’s tailored terms of reference, he added.

Sources in the Pakistan People’s Party said that they wanted to take the proceedings of the Panama Papers’ panel to its logical end and on the conclusion of its deliberations, which would maximum be stretched up to 15 sittings as interpreted by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, so that nobody could point figure at the opposition that they have left the negotiation table.

PPP member in the committee Ch Aitzaz Ahsan, an architect of the opposition’s ToRs, was of the view that in case, they could not break the impasse in the given timeline then they would bring the matter in the court of public and would present, if required, the chronology of the proceedings of the committee so that people could judge for themselves who was at fault.

Sources informed that the flexibility shown by the PTI Chairman Imran Khan on the matter sending back Shah Mahmood Qureshi to opposition parties to devise joint strategy on the issue was the result of some backchannel contacts and discussion between the leaders of both parties.

Sources in the opposition parties informed that the committee members were not optimistic about the outcome of the committee deliberations but at the same time they did not want to give an impression at any point that it was opposition which left the negotiation table.

Sources said that PPP leadership wanted to take the matter to its logical conclusion and would push the ruling PML-N to a level where the government would be left with no choice but to accept the opposition’s demand on probe mechanism and that would only be possible when the opposition parties would remain united on the issue, the point PPP leadership knew well.