The Senate passed the Panama papers Inquiries Bill 2016 with majority vote on Thursday, though it is doubtful that the bill will be able to pass through the National Assembly and enacted. When Leader of Opposition in Senate, Aitzaz Ahsan, presented the bill, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) senators – Ayesha Raza Farooq, Nehal Hashmi and Mohsin Leghari – proposed amendments in it, which were all rejected. The claim was made by PML-N leaders that there was not enough time or space or proper discussion, however, the PML-N itself has used the same tactic in the National Assembly, where it has passed bills in haste.

The fact is that politics within the legislative houses is extremely antagonistic, and not conducive to the passing of important bills. While the bill will be killed in the lower house, the movement and discussion over it is quite important. Aitizaz Ahsan reminded the government lawmakers that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had also failed to fulfil his commitment and gave conflicting statements in parliament and before the Supreme Court. This lends outside support to the same claim being made by the PTI in the National Assembly. While PTI and PPP will never see eye to eye, the fact is that the process at the Supreme Court has stalled, and the issue of the conflicting statements needs clarification. While the PM is not legally bound to provide a clarification, his attendance in Parliament, will be enough to make it seem as if he earnestly wants what is better for political stability and accountability.

The riotous proceedings in the National Assembly on Thursday are just a symptom of how unprofessional and aggressive parliamentary politics are. However, the conflict is necessary if the parliamentarians are to come to any resolution over the Panama Papers. The PTI should have been in the fray since the start. When the PM made his first speech after the Panama leaks, the PTI walkout, without questions, or debate, was a big mistake. The opposition put no pressure on the majority to make any changes, until the matter ended up in court and then stalled with the change of Chief Justice. Staying in house is now the only way, street power has failed and the court case only related to the clarification of the London flats and their ownership. The vast questions of money and its flight from Pakistan are still to be addressed, not just for the Sharif family, but all those names in the Panama Leaks. The legislative process is the only tool to pursue the issue, and its myriad sub-issues. PPP and PTI needs to strap down for this, do their homework, and come to class.