ISLAMABAD - Opposition members in the upper house of the parliament yesterday said that they don’t see any outcome of the proposed commission to investigate the people mentioned in the Panama leaks and reach the truth.

“We did not see any progress in the investigation into three major scandals during the past five years. The facts pertaining to the Haj scandal, Ogra scandal and Ephedrine scandal remain as shrouded today as it were on the day of disclosures. This is our track record not to take the things to their logical conclusions”, said PML-Q Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed as he demanded a joint parliamentary commission for across the board investigation of the people mentioned in the Panama leaks. Taking part in the debate on the revelations made in Panama Leaks, Hussain said that it is not a conspiracy against some individual.

He said Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on May 10, 2014 had said that 1200 billion dollars of different Pakistanis were parked in Swiss banks and also assured to get them back but till date, he believed, no progress was made in this regard. “Pakistan is yet to contact the Swiss authorities (on the subject)”, he told the house.

He was of the view that constitution of a joint parliamentary commission would uphold the supremacy of the parliament and added they always looked towards ‘referees’ and ‘judges’ to probe the matters pertaining to the parliamentarians. He said the government should take a decision on an urgent basis otherwise, he asked the chair to constitute an Ethics Committee of the house to look into the allegations of tax evasion and money laundering. He also suggested the Election Commission of Pakistan to obtain a declaration from the candidates whether they own offshore companies adding the parliament should also bring legislation to check conflict of interest. On PTI’s possible protest movement, Hussain said ‘right of peaceful protest is there but destabilizing the government under allegations’ cover is not fair’.

Responding to the questions on Swiss accounts issue Ishaq Dar said that the process of negotiations has been started with Switzerland authorities to get access to the money stashed by Pakistanis in Swiss banks. He said the FBR was authorized to hold the negotiations after getting approval from the Cabinet. He said two meetings headed by the Chairman FBR have already been held with Swiss authorities.

Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak of PTI also said that he sees no outcome of the possible probe by NAB, FIA and other government departments into the allegations of money laundering. “Nothing will have an outcome until people (ruling party) have ulterior motives”, he believed. He did not see any logic in inviting foreign investment when the family of the prime minister is making investments abroad. He suggested constituting a judicial commission with the chief justice as its head to probe the allegations.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman was of the view that though illegality may not have involved in registering offshore companies even then it is a matter of ethics. Disclosures and source of funding are the basis of transparency, she added. “People are asking what democracy is meant for”, Sherry told the house as she lamented rulers’ ‘escape’ from accountability. She urged the government to take the investigation into the matter to its logical conclusion once the PM feels better and added corruption and tax fraud are the biggest problems in the country. She also lamented that her party was targeted in the name of accountability during the past years.

In his remarks, Ch. Tanvir Hussain said it is the first time in the country’s history that the Prime Minister has presented his family for accountability by constituting a commission. He said the present government has started mega development projects but certain elements are bent upon creating hurdles in their way. He said that investment is pouring in the country due to the prudent economic policies of the government.

Earlier, responding to a question, State Minister for Interior Balighur Rehman said the government has revisited its policy towards inclusion of names in the Exit Control List. He said that names of 4,982 people have been removed from the ECL since September 2015. The House will now meet on Monday at 15:30 pm.