ISLAMABAD - The junior partners in coalition government have fully endorsed PML-N’s discarding the opposition parties’ terms of reference (ToRs) for proposed judicial commission on Panama leaks.

In a meeting held at PM House yesterday, they also endorsed government decision of engaging the opposition parties in negotiations to make them realise on the lacunae in their ToRs.

The meeting decided to constitute a committee which would now include the members from coalition partners to sit with opposition leaders to find out some mutually acceptable way forward.

Sources aware of the meeting deliberations said the heads of coalition partners were given briefing on the whole affair by Law Minister Zahid Hamid with a comparison of government and opposition ToRs for the proposed commission.

The coalition partners praised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for presenting himself for accountability and announcing the judicial commission under a retired judge of Supreme Court when, according to them, ‘there was even no such demand’ from any quarter.

Later, on the demand of opposition parties, they said, Prime Minister wrote letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan to form commission to probe Panama leaks comprising sitting judges of the apex court but again opposition parties came up with fresh objections on government-framed ToRs.

JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman grilled the opposition parties, particularly PTI, for its ‘non-serious’ handling of a very sensitive matter which could endanger the whole system and advised the opposition parties to play wisely when the ruling coalition was ready to have ‘fair’ inquiry into the matter.

The other coalition partners including Pakistan Muslim League-Zia chief Ejazul Haq, Jamaat-i-Ahle Hadis chief Senator Sajid Mir, National Party President Mir Hasil Bizenjo and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party President Mahmood Khan Achakzai all backed the PM’s stance on the issue.

These parliamentarians also commended the government’s decision to engage the opposition parties into negotiation on the matter and to make them realise that the ToRs the opposition parties had drafted and dispatched to the prime minister were ‘full of flaws’ and ‘seemed biased’ against prime minister and his family.

It was further decided in the meeting that members from coalition parties of the PML-N should also be included in the government negotiation team to engage opposition in dialogue to enhance the credibility and transparency of the process.

Some of the participants of the meeting including Fazlur Rehman said that government should not show any flexibility to the opposition parties on the matter but some others opined that government side should sit on negotiation table with open mind and heart and the genuine concerns of the opposition should be duly addressed by amending the ToRs.

Similarly, it was hoped that opposition parties should also realise the seriousness of the matter and instead of just doing politics must engage in a meaningful dialogue with the government to carve out some way forward. They should avoid taking things to a deadlock which would ultimately result in harm to the system.

Sources informed The Nation that prime minister has directed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who would head the government negotiation team, to approach the Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah to fix time for early meeting between the two sides.

They said that a revised team of the government side would be announced in a day or so while the meeting between the government and opposition would likely take place next week.

In the huddle at the Prime Minister’s House the PML-N was represented by Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed, Minister for Water and Power Kh Asif and Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid.

Talking to media after the meeting JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman said that ToRs prepared by the opposition parties were in conflict with the constitution and law of the land.

He said opposition parties should take the matter seriously and feared that the way they were handling the issue might push things toward some unconstitutional solution. To a question he said that PM’s resignation should be linked to the outcome of the Panama leaks probe.