Amid talk that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may have to quit over the Panama Papers case, Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Saturday said the notion of appointing a new Prime Minister was just a speculation. A Geo TV report, citing high level sources, said Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the brother of Nawaz Sharif, is expected to replace him if the latter is disqualified by the Supreme Court for alleged corruption and money laundering in the Panama Papers case. The report added that since Shehbaz is not a member of the National Assembly — the lower house of Parliament — he cannot succeed immediately and would have to contest elections. Therefore, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif will most likely become the interim Prime Minister for 45 days till Shehbaz is elected in by-polls.
Asif, however, said the notion was just a speculation and there was no truth in the report. He said Nawaz Sharif was being held accountable when the names of his children were mentioned in the Panama Papers. Asif said that Nawaz Sharif presented himself for accountability when he could have taken immunity. He said the Prime Minister has presented the financial record of three generations and four decades.
The Supreme Court on Friday concluded hearing in the sensitive Panama Papers case against Nawaz Sharif and his family for alleged corruption and money laundering, but reserved its verdict which could jeopardise his political future. A six-member JIT was set up in May by the apex court with the mandate to probe the Sharif family for allegedly failing to provide the trail of money used to buy properties in London in 1990s. So far Nawaz Sharif has refused to quit, calling the investigators’ report a compilation of “allegations and assumptions”.