ISLAMABAD - The opposition parties yesterday struggled to become one unit against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, though they reached a consensus on the Terms of Reference (ToRs) seeking urgent and fair accountability over the Panama leaks scandal.

Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf led the moot in which PPP, PTI, Awami National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Jamaat-i-Islami, PML-Q, Qaumi Watan Party, Awami Muslim League and Balochistan National Party-Mengal had different viewpoints over the PM’s resignation.

PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan told the media after the landmark meeting there was no consensus on PM’s resignation.

“This does not weaken our unity. We are all committed to fair investigations into the Panama leaks and want accountability of all those named. The process must start from the PM,” he said.

The committee that convened a meeting yesterday comprised Aitzaz Ahsan, Hamid Khan Shamil, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Asadullah Bhutto, Aneesa Zaib Tahirkheli, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Mir Israrullah Zehri and Khalid Maqbool.

Ahsan said the opposition parties had reached a consensus over ToRs to form a judicial commission to probe Panama Papers.

“The proposed judicial commission must investigate allegations of Panama Papers against PM’s children within three months,” he added.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had pledged to resign if a probe into Panama leaks found his family had committed wrongdoings.

Three of Sharif’s four children are named in the Panama Papers - daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who has been tipped to be his political successor, and sons Hasan Nawaz Sharif and Hussain Nawaz Sharif - with the records showing they owned London real estate through offshore companies administered by Mossack Fonseca.

The leaked papers, comprising 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, exposes how some of the world’s most powerful people have secreted their money offshore.

Ahsan said, according to the ToRs, the judicial commission should first examine all foreign assets of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children with the help of international audit firms.

The commission will carry out full scrutiny of assets, taxes, source of money and other related matters, he maintained.

He said the Panama Commission Trial and Inquiry Act will be promulgated under which a judicial commission headed by the chief justice should be set up to hold an inquiry into Panama papers.

“The commission will decide about PM Sharif’s offshore assets in three months while others’ cases can be decided within a year,” the PPP stalwart said.

Ahsan said there were differences among opposition parties about the resignation of the prime minister before the inquiry.

PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his party was not withdrawing its demand on PM’s resignation. “Opposition parties have agreed on the ToRs. The PM now needs to act. He can’t afford to wait,” he said.

Another PTI leader Hamid Khan also reiterated his party’s demand for the PM’s resignation, saying: “We are of the view that fair investigations can’t be held if Nawaz Sharif is the PM. He should resign.”

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said all the parties were unanimous on the accountability of the rulers. “If the PM feels he has done nothing wrong, then there should be no delay in investigations,” she said.

Senator Rehman said the PPP wanted the PM to prove he was innocent and had not violated any rules. “We are giving a fair time for investigations. We are demanding accountability of all. It is not Nawaz Sharif specific,” she maintained.

PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said that all opposition parties in principle backed demands for prime minister’s resignation, but there was disagreement on its timing.

“There is no big difference. Some want him to quit before the inquiry and others want him to go if convicted,” Kaira said.

The ToRs agreed upon by the opposition however, do not mention any point about the resignation of the PM.

AML chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said the committee had agreed on a total of 15 points. He said that six parties were in favour of asking the prime minister to resign while two were against it.

“The opposition has agreed on giving judicial commission three-month time period to probe Panama leaks against Sharif family,” he said.

Ahmed said PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s call to give “another blow” to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘friend’ was heartening.

MQM leader Kanwar Naveed Jameel said the prime minister should resign on moral grounds. ANP and the QWP said their stance against the demand was aimed at not being too harsh before a trial.

Sources said the opposition parties were set to send their ToRs to the Supreme Court.

According to the ToRs, the opposition has agreed to press the government for a special law – the “Panama Papers (Inquiry And Trial) Act, 2016” – to be passed to facilitate the investigation into the assets, foreign and domestic, of the prime minister and all other Pakistanis named in the Panama Papers.

The joint opposition would call for the constitution of a special judicial commission headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan and comprising of two other SC judges to be nominated by the CJ.

The commission may appoint a committee of experts … in international forensic audit to carry out an exhaustive investigation and audit into the offshore companies and their accounts owned by the Respondent and his family including all transactions, sales and purchases of all assets, moveable and immoveable, including stocks, shares, debentures and equitable or benami (property without a name) interests, opening and operation of all bank accounts, including offshore bank accounts and incorporation of all companies including offshore companies whether directly or behind corporate veil(s) wherever in the world they may be, the ToRs read.

The commission will also be tasked to verify the money trail and how funds were provided for such offshore companies. The act passed will provide for “an irrebuttable presumption of guilt” if those being investigated refuse or fail to facilitate or authorise the probe.

Those being investigated will bear the burden of proving, if ownership of such assets or offshore companies is established, that it was lawfully acquired through legitimate sources and funds.

Before the Commission enters upon any Inquiry, the Respondents (starting with the Prime Minister his Family as volunteered by himself) will place all and complete information of all their worldwide moveable and immoveable assets and interests in properties, benami, beneficial, offshore or otherwise held at any time since 1985 along with full details of the Income, read the ToRs agreed upon by the joint opposition.