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Limited options

What could have been the other option for PM Nawaz Sharif than to appear on PTV for a short speech after the Panama Leaks?

Limited options

The famous line from King Henry IV by William Shakespeare cannot be more appropriate for our head of the government, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

One view is that our head of the government may have added a thorn or two recently to his otherwise comfortable crown.

This he seems to have done by taking a number of hasty decisions after the Panama Leaks — One, by making a short speech on PTV, which was unsatisfying to the viewers and two, by announcing the formation of a judicial commission, which he said would be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Was the speech an attempt to absolve himself of the allegations? Did his speech have clarity about what he wanted to convey?

The main question is, did Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have a better option than appearing on the state-owned PTV to defend himself and his family in the wake of the Panama Leaks?

The answer, according to some critics, is both yes and no, depending on what he said and didn’t in that speech.

To begin with, the speech was seen as a contradiction in terms. That is, if the prime minister had got nothing to do with the allegations and only the names of his children are involved, why did he address the nation in the first place?

On the contrary, in the company of good advisers, it can be said, the speech could have been used to his great advantage instead. Ideally, he should have presented himself and his family for a full and impartial investigation to an independent investigation body.

Experts believe he should also have presented the relevant original documents to the nation and the investigation body or bodies later, such as the ones proposed by senior PPP leader, Aitzaz Ahsan. And that would have cleared much of the fog around the whole issue.

And since the allegations also ask how the money was made, the documents could be about the sources of the money, was the money declared or not, was the tax paid on the money? He could have at least declared his tax returns of the last 4-5 years, as did UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron, to retain the confidence of his supporters in him.

Political analysts would sincerely suggest him to make room for another prime minister from the PML-N to take the driving seat while he and his family clear their names from the scandal.

Establishing an offshore company is not illegal, if set up through legal means. But looking at how Nawaz Sharif is handling it, can we say then that maybe there is something wrong somewhere?

Maybe, but not everything is wrong, believe some politicians. After presenting himself and his children for an independent and impartial inquiry, they argue, he could have addressed the parliament and taken the opposition into confidence. That would have released a lot of pressure from the opposition parties in the very beginning.

Still, there are also some clues for the prime minister in how other world leaders whose names have appeared in the leaks have responded to the allegations. They have left their office and resigned, that includes Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseyuk and Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson. They caved in under the people’s pressure and why not?

Some political analysts would sincerely suggest him to make room for another prime minister from the PML-N to take the driving seat while he and his family clear their names from the scandal. A lot will depend on whether he listens to his critics and well-wishers or reacts impulsively.

Ather Naqvi

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