LAHORE - The Supreme Court Bar Association has come to the limelight to act as a bridge between the government and the PTI on the issue of setting up a judicial commission to probe the Panama leaks about the offshore companies of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children, which they operated allegedly to siphon off tax-evaded money from the income of their business in Pakistan.

The Bar has rejected the announcement made by the prime minister to appoint a former judge of the Supreme Court as the head of the judicial commission. Now the top body of the legal fraternity will come up with a ‘via media’ to fathom the truth about the offshore companies of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz. However, the Bar is keeping that midway formula closed to its chest and will not disclose the same until both sides share the same with their respective leadership and the bar holds an APC on the issue.

Through separate meetings here yesterday, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qurashi and the government team led by Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid met SCBA President Barrister Ali Zafar, Secretary Asad Manzoor Butt and the executive members.

Both the sides urged the Bar to play a role to overcome the standoff that arose after the PTI refused to accept the judicial commission of retired judge and demanded a probe forum to be headed by the chief justice of Pakistan who would also be at liberty to get the help of forensic experts and auditors of international repute to reach facts.

The government side also comprised Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali and Adviser to Prime Minister Barrister Zafarullah.

Earlier, Shah Mahmood held discussions with the bar representatives. Addressing media persons jointly with Barrister Ali Zafar, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: “After rejection of the PM’s commission by the bar, we have received from its leaders a way out to deal with the situation and find out facts of the matter. PTI Chief Imran Khan, he said, is due to come back from London on Monday next and the bar idea will be presented to him following which his party will announce its decision on the bar proposal.

Barrister Ali Zafar told the media persons that the PM-appointed commission carries a big question mark as a retired judge cannot exercise judicial powers. The situation that arose after the Panama leaks is worrisome for the whole nation and the legal fraternity is equally perturbed, which has necessitated that the truth behind the disclosures must be fathomed. He said it is heartening that the PTI leader has trusted the bar. He said it must be kept in mind that the commission of a retired judge will not be judiciously authorized, so the bar has suggested a via media to the PTI vice chairman and a way to dig out the truth.

To a question on the Raiwind Dharna, Shah Mahmood said it is the last option. He also dispelled the impression that PTI wants to roll back democracy or wants to halt progress of the country.

Later, in the evening, Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants an independent commission to hold an inquiry into the Panama leaks. He said the government wanted to resolve the issue.

He expressed these views while talking to the reporters outside the SCBA office in Lahore. Zahid Hamid said an inquiry into the matter should be held immediately and facts brought before the public. The minister stated that they wanted reforms. Barrister Zafarullah Khan said he has suggested timely justice. SCBA President Barrister Ali Zafar said the public wants to know reality behind the Panama leaks.

OPP ASKED TO AVOID POINT SCORING ON PANAMA

Federal Minister for Science & Technology and Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain has said that the opposition parties are politicising the Panama Leaks disclosures just for scoring political points.

Talking to the media during his visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the minister said that the government was ready for transparent and neutral investigation on Panama disclosures from any state institution.

Rana Tanveer said that the opposition parties were not showing seriousness in the formation of commission, adding that they were just doing politics on the Panama reports.

The minister said that some PML-N leaders have been assigned to consult with the parliamentary leaders of opposition parties including Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) to evolve a consensus to form an independent inquiry commission.

Regarding allegations on Shaukat Khanum Hospital, he said PTI Chairman Imran Khan should not take refuge in donations and stay orders, adding that he should behave as a mature politician.

He alleged that the PTI chairman had invested the donations collected for Shaukat Khanum in offshore companies. He said that the governments is focusing on elimination of terrorism thus terror incidents had reduced to a great extent.

The minister said the government was willing to take every possible step to take the prevailing issues to a logical conclusion however, the leadership of all the political parties should demonstrate maturity and realise that not issue could be settled in chaos.

The need of the time is to constitute a forum and a committee to investigate the allegations relating to the Panama Leaks, he said. He said that a media trial was being carried out against the government instead of taking the issue to a suitable forum for proper investigation.