With regards to the controversy related to the Panama Papers corruption case, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has insisted that he and his family have done nothing wrong and lashed out at “unseen elements” for hatching ‘conspiracies’ against his government, Pakistani daily The Nation reported.
“If the factories that produce agendas and silence the decisions of the people are not closed, not only the law and constitution but the safety of this country will also be jeopardised,” he was quoted as saying outside the Federal Judicial Academy following his appearance before the joint investigation team (JIT) probing his family’s offshore business dealings. Sharif reportedly faced questions from investigators for about three hours.
Sharif said that he had accounted for every penny that he or his family had ever owned. Following his appearance before the JIT, the Pakistani PM called the day “a milestone in upholding the supremacy of rule of law”. He argued that the allegations of his opponents would die down.
“If the factories involved in trampling the mandate of the people and democracy do not wind up their business now, the national security and democracy would be jeopardised,” he said addressing the media.
A defiant Sharif went on to say that despite the allegations of corruption, the people of Pakistan would stand by him in the 2018 general elections. “We will not let the wheel of history turn in opposite direction. The days of games behind the scenes are now over. There can be no more puppet games,” he said.
“The people of Pakistan need to understand whatever is happening today has nothing to do with any corruption or embezzlement and the charges against us are not about any corruption in the national exchequer, but are related to my private family business,” Sharif added.
Calling the questions on accountability on him and his family as ‘ruthless’, Sharif said that he would succeed again. “Is there any other family in Pakistan that has appeared for accountability?” he said. “My personal businesses have nothing to do with the national treasury. And no conspiracy being hatched by my rivals will succeed. We are going to emerge successful not only from this test of time but also in the next general elections with the people’s support,” he added.
While addressing the media, Nawaz said that he had presented his side before the JIT and had also explained that details of his assets and resources had already been submitted to the Pakistan Supreme Court.
Recalling the time the Panama Papers leak had surfaced nearly 15 months ago, Sharif said had the conspiracies not been hatched then, the matter would have been resolved today. He said that he had proposed the setting up of a commission comprising Supreme Court judges to look into the case.
“The JIT and the Supreme Court of Pakistan will give their verdict, but the next JIT is bigger which comprises 200 million Pakistanis and we will all have to present ourselves before them,” Sharif said.
“It is now time that the emblem of truth and right be upheld. There may be many questions and I too have a lot to say, but will say it for the next time,” he added.
In 2016, after working for over eight months with a host of news organisations around the world and ICIJ, The Indian Express put out the Panama Papers, the biggest leak ever covered by journalists. Apart from Nawaz Sharif, the names of several world leaders, celebrities, sportspersons such as Amitabh Bachchan and Vladimir Putin came up. Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned following revelations of his holdings stashed away in a tax haven.