Selective Accountability

Opposition is partially united on its move against the Government on the Panama Papers. They have framed their on Terms Of Reference (TORs) on 3 May. They, however, could not agree on the question of step downing of Prime Minister. It is not cleared if these are TORs or pre-conditions for accountability. They demanded that the accountability should be started from Prime Minister and his family first to investigate into their assets during 1985-2016 and should be completed within three months.

This is the deadline they have given to the Commission headed by the Chief Justice and two judges of the Supreme Court. Will the Supreme Court work under their dictations. They also demanded if the Supreme Court Commission was not formed that a Parliamentary Commission headed by the opposition should take care of these allegations. They intend to give a complete political colour to the allegations rather than taking these allegations on legal grounds. They want a special law to be passed by the Parliament to investigate into allegations.

When the issue become so political, will the Government have majority in the Parliament would pass such law? They also said that the remaining 249 cases should be decided within a year after the Prime Minister case was settled. On 9 May many more names are to be disclosed in the second phase of the Panama Papers. The opposition’s TORs did not say a word on that and is it possible to investigate into all these names within a year. Choosing an international audit firm and making a decision within three months could only damage the case in hurry. Courts have their own procedures and they cannot be dictated by a dictator or an opposition. In a hurry to fix up the Prime Minister, opposition is not making a wise and legal move but a political move, which will not work out in this case. The opposition’s TORs are seeking a selective justice. They are not pursuing other cases in which trillions of dollars were looted of tax payers’ money.

This will set a wrong precedent. Country will be de-stabilized. For a creating a sustainable transparency, across the board accountability should be launched under the law of the land. The opposition alliance of nine parties of the late 1970s against Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto resulted in judicial murder, a curse that cannot be imagined. Accountability needs across the board justice and not a selective justice.

Dr Ahmad Rashid Malik