ISLAMABAD - Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has distanced itself from major opposition parties – PPP and PTI – over the formation of a judicial commission to probe the Panama leaks as it has decided to support the government over Justice (r) Sarmad Jalal Osmany’s appointment as the head of the probe body.

Though Sindh-based party (MQM) has many reservations against the federal government over the Karachi operation, it is surprisingly supporting it in this difficult time.

The MQM has decided to support the government’s nominee to lead the judicial commission to probe Panama Papers’ unprecedented leak of 11.5 million files, sources in MQM shared with The Nation.

The judicial commission, yet to be finalised, will probe the Panama leaks of 11.5 million files from an offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca that has revealed the financial wheeling and dealing of the world’s most prominent players, including the family of the prime minister.

The government side has made Justice (r) Sarmad Jalal Osmany head of the commission. It has also finalised ‘ToRs’ of the commission being set up in pursuance of the announcement made by the prime minister.

When contacted, MQM’s Ali Raza Abidi confirmed that MQM would not join hands with other opposition parties in the matter of the Panama leaks. “We are supporting the commission formed by PML-N,” MQM’s Ali Raza Abidi said, talking to The Nation exclusively.

Other opposition parties have outright rejected Justice (r) Sarmad Jalal Osmany as head of the commission. PPP has demanded formation of parliamentary commission, headed by Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani and comprising equal number of government and opposition members to investigate the Panama leaks allegations. “Raza Rabbani should be given all powers and assistance of technical experts to investigate the allegations,” Opposition Leader Khurshid Shah said the other day.

PTI, the second opposition party, earlier demanded a judicial commission under the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) to investigate this important matter. “We demand a commission under the chief justice of Pakistan. If the commission is not empowered, there is no use of having it,” Imran Khan, a couple days before said in the National Assembly.

MQM has many reservations against the federal government for not addressing their concerns through Grievance Redressal Commission (GRC).

The federal government has not so far made GRC functional. This body had to submit its final report in 90 days after its formation, but even a signal meeting has not so far been held.

The MQM legislators submitted resignations en-mass over two months before, giving 19 reasons. On it, this GRC was formed to address their reservations.

Political pundits viewed that MQM is supporting the government to take some gains in terms of the Karachi operation. “The party might demand leniency in the Karachi operation,” they said, adding Mustafa Kamal’s factor is also causing much disturbance for the party as its members are changing their loyalties.

“In this situation, MQM will avoid opening more fronts and prefer to support the government’s stance over the judicial commission,” they added.

Sources said the federal government has also approached MQM to support them in the matter of the judicial commission. “The ruling party’s senior members will also talk to senior members of MQM on this matter,” they added.

The data from Panama Papers, available on the website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists — one of around 100 news organisations that worked on the data simultaneously — also reveals the offshore holdings of members of Prime Minister Sharif’s family.