Imran Khan (Photo: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan’s opposition leaders Saturday slammed the government’s move to form a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to probe how the national debt increased from Rs 6,000 billion to Rs 30,000 billion rupees in last ten years.

Prime Minister Imran Khan recently announced that the government would form a commission to investigate how cash-strapped Pakistan’s debt increased by Rs 24,000 billion between 2008 and 2018, during the successive five-year period of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) regime.

The Pakistan government on Friday notified the formation of the 11-member Commission of Inquiry, headed by the Deputy Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Hussain Asghar.

Opposing the move, senior PML-N leader and daughter of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz demanded the probe should begin from the year 1999 – when former Pakistan Army chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf came to power and also include the loans taken by the Khan government.

“The nalaiq-i-azam (a term she uses for Khan) has borrowed Rs 5,000 billion in the first 10 months of his government. The total amount borrowed by the PML-N during its tenure was Rs 10,000 billion,” she said.

Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and senior PML-N leader also raised objection to the probe, saying that “those having no knowledge of economy will not determine whether the decisions of the elected governments were right or wrong”.

The PPP already objected to the formation of commission and its leader Asif Ali Zardari said that it was not the right way to improve economy.

The Commission comprises representatives of the Military Intelligence, Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency, NAB, State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Accountant General Pakistan Revenue and special secretary of finance division.

It has been asked to finalise the report in six months but time can be extended with the approval of the Prime Minister.

It will probe the utilisation of debt money on the development programmes and determine if it was misused or not.

The commission will also investigate about the award or implementation of any contract, agreement or project and whether any debt was taken for a particular project or undertaking and the same was then spent on that project or not.

It will also conclude if the terms and conditions of any public contract were tainted, benevolent or artificially inflated to facilitate any kick-backs and, if so, in whose favour.

It will also ascertain whether any holders of public office or their spouses, children and any person connected to them expended any public funds to meet personal or private expenditures, beyond what is permitted under the law and rules.

(PTI)