Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is holding consultations with the lawmakers of the ruling party to devise a strategy to respond to the opposition’s calls for his resignation over the Panama case probe panel’s report on money laundering charges against him. A six-member Joint Investigation Team, probing the Sharif family’s offshore assets and alleged corruption, in a 10- volume damning report submitted to the Supreme Court on July 10 recommended that a corruption case should be filed against the prime minister and his sons – Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz – as well as daughter Maryam. During the meeting with the lawmakers of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), Sharif would take stock of the prevailing political situation in the country.
Sources close to PMLN said that it would be an important meeting to woo some of the disgruntled backbenchers of the party whose support would be a key for Sharif. It is the fourth high-level meeting to take place since Monday when JIT submitted the report on money laundering allegations against Sharif. The JIT in its report said that Sharif’s life style and that of his children was beyond the known means of income. Opposition parties have been demanding his resignation after the submission of the report. The high-profile graft case is about alleged money laundering by Sharif in 1990s when he twice served as the Prime Minister to purchase assets in London. The assets surfaced when Panama papers last year showed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.
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The case filed by various petitioners — Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq and Sheikh Rashid Ahmed — sought disqualification of Prime Minister Sharif over his alleged misstatement in his address to the nation on April 5, 2016 and his speech before the National Assembly on May 16, 2016. The petitioners had claimed that the prime minister lied about the investments made by his children in offshore companies, which led to the acquisition of four apartments in London’s upscale Park Lane neighbourhood. In April, a five-judge Supreme Court bench issued a landmark 540-page split judgement ordering setting up of the JIT comprising officials from different agencies including those from powerful spy agencies the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence. Sharif is the only Pakistani politician who has the distinction of being the prime minister of the coup-prone country for a record three times. He had served as the Prime Minister from 1990 to 1993 and from 1997 to 1999. Both of Sharif’s first two stints had ended in the third year of his tenure.