A main political rival in Pakistan has demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down, after documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm revealed his children own several offshore companies.
The revelations have dominated debates in Pakistani political circles and the media, mostly critical of Sharif for allegedly concealing his family’s offshore property.
Sharif has denied any wrongdoing by himself or his sons, and last week he announced the establishment of a judicial commission to be headed by a retired judge to determine the facts.
But his main political rival, Imran Khan, in a televised speech Sunday, rejected the commission as an attempt to cover up corruption of the Sharif family.
Pakistan's opposition leader Imran Khan speaks during a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, April 10, 2016. Khan called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign.
“I am demanding Mr. Prime Minister, on behalf of the Pakistani nation, that you resign because you have lost moral authority to rule Pakistan or ask the people to pay taxes,” Khan asserted.
He vowed to stage a sit-in protest rally outside Sharif’s family residence in Raiwind, near the eastern city of Lahore, if the prime minister does not quit. But he gave no date for that ultimatum.
Khan said his party will give the government until April 24 to take appropriate actions like hiring the services of international auditors and the formation of an inquiry commission under the leadership of Pakistan’s chief justice to investigate charges of “corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and perjury.”
Pakistani Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed rejected Khan’s allegations and demands as “baseless and childish.”
Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party staged a big sit-in protest outside parliament in late 2014. For weeks, his supporters refused to disperse, demanding that Prime Minister Sharif step down over allegations of fraud in the 2013 parliamentary election. The demonstration formally ended after a Taliban attack on a school in the city of Peshawar killed 150 people, mostly children.
“I promise my nation that until justice is done and accountability is ensured, I will not back down this time,” Khan warned in his Sunday speech.
The so-called Panama Papers leak named Sharif's two sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, and daughter Maryam Safdar as owners of several offshore companies.
A family spokesman, in a statement, insisted the documents alleged no wronging because no illegal means were involved in establishing the assets.