Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said he would not resign, a demand raised by the Opposition and a section of the media. The call for his resignation came after a Joint Investigation Team found him and his family guilty in the Panama Papers leak.
“I will not resign on the demand of a group of conspirators,” said Sharif during an emergency Cabinet meeting on the current political crisis. “The journey of progress will not be allowed to derail as the country has already paid a huge price due to political crises in the past,” he said, according to Pakistan media.
Sharif added that his party, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), had won more votes in the general elections than the total of those who are demanding him to step down. “The people of Pakistan have elected me and only they can remove me from this post,” he said.
The Panama Papers case
The Pakistani Supreme Court had set up a JIT after Sharif was named, with several hundred others from cross the globe, in the Panama Papers leak in 2016. The leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca had revealed that three of his children owned offshore companies and undisclosed assets, including four expensive flats in Park Lane, London.
The panel had said it had found significant disparities in the income and actual wealth of Sharif and his family members and recommended filing a corruption case against them. This includes Sharif’s sons Hassan and Hussain Sharif and his daughter Maryam Sharif.
It also said there had been “irregular movement” of massive sums of money between Sharif and his sons from several companies in Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. The panel said Sharif’s companies in the UK were loss-making and primarily engaged in moving funds around. These were used to justify buying properties in London.
Sharif and his family have criticised the report, calling it “trash”, and have continued to deny any wrongdoing. The government has also rubbished the report, though Opposition parties in Pakistan are now demanding the prime minister resignation.
Sharif continues to retain the status of a billionaire, and his declared assets stood at at 1.84 billion Pakistani rupees (Rs 1.13 billion) in 2016.