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PM, aides discuss terms of reference for probe into rise in debt

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday presided over a meeting to finalise terms of reference (ToR) of a high-powered commission he had announced in his late-night televised address to the nation to probe into a massive rise in foreign debts and misuse of loans, if any, during the last decade.

Read: PM Imran vows to go after ‘the thieves who put country badly in debt’

The meeting was informed that the commission would comprise senior officers from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelli­gence (MI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Securities and Exchange Commis­sion of Pakistan (SECP), Auditor General’s Office, Federal Investi­gation Agency (FIA) and others.

In a tweet, the prime minister urged the nation not to glorify the leaders who had put the country on the verge of collapse economically and who were responsible for their miseries by plundering national wealth and being involved in money laundering.

Read: ‘Time for nation to stop glorifying money launderers,’ says PM Imran

At the meeting held to discuss and finalise the draft of ToR, the participants were informed that the commission was being constituted under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 2017.

Imran urges nation not to glorify money launderers; meets allies in Sindh

The commission will investigate how the debt had increased by Rs24,000 billion between 2008 and 2018, whereas according to the participants no mega projects had been completed during this period.

The commission will not only look into all ministries and divisions, including the ministers concerned who had spent public money, but will also work to bring back the money, in case of misappropriation, to the exchequer.

It will also look into any misuse of public exchequer for personal use and gains such as foreign travels, foreign medical treatment expen­ses, construction of roads and infrastructure for private houses decla­red as camp offices of high officials.

The commission, in addition to its members, will be empowered to induct forensic auditors/experts of international repute for its assistance.

Final TORs and announcement of the commission head will be made public during this week.

Law Minister Mohammad Farogh Naseem, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar and Auditor General Javaid Jehangir also attended the meeting.

The prime minister earlier in his televised address had vowed to go after those responsible for increasing foreign debts from Rs6,000bn to Rs30,000bn during the last decade and had announced the commission of inquiry to ascertain who had misused foreign loans and how the public money had been misappropriated.

Accusing ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, PPP leader Asif Zardari and their families of money laundering, Mr Khan presented figures to inform the nation that the fortune of these families had increased manifold.

Labelling the Charter of Democracy signed by the PML-N and the PPP as ‘Charter of Corruption’, the prime minister said that accountability of very powerful and influential persons was the real change.

PM’s tweet

In his tweet a day after the budget was presented, PM Khan said the nation should stop glorifying the money launderers who he said had caused damage to the country and impoverished the people

No protocol be extended to those seeking refuge behind the cover of democracy, he said in an indirect reference to leaders of the main opposition parties facing cases in courts.

He questioned: “Where in the world are plunderers of public wealth given such special treatment. It’s time to treat such people as criminals.”

Meets allies in Sindh

In a separate meeting, the prime minister met leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and allies hailing from Sindh and sought details of the problems confronting the people of the province.

Mohammadmian Soomro, Dr Fahmida Mirza, Ghous Bukhsh Khan Mehar, Nuzhat Pathan, Lal Chand, Jai Parkash, Sabir Hussain Qaimkhani, Salahuddin, Saira Bano besides prime minister’s aides Naeemul Haq, Arshad Dad and Saifullah Niazi attended the meeting.

The leaders congratulated PM Khan for ‘stabilising’ the crippling economy, announcing federal budget for the year 2019-20 and taking people of the country into confidence on several national issues through his late night address to the nation.

The prime minister said he would shortly pay a visit to the province and reiterated his resolve that those who had looted the national wealth would be held accountable for their actions.

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