Imran Khan wants early verdict in Panama Papers case

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has “requested” the Supreme Court judges to announce the verdict in the Panama Papers case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family as early as possible so that the country could move forward.

“I, on behalf of the whole nation, request the SC judges that the whole country has come to a standstill while waiting for the verdict. I know you have done great work and you are to look into other things as well. But we all request you to decide early,” Mr Khan said at a news conference after presiding over a party meeting at his residence on Wednesday.

“I know there will be a lot of pressure on the judges. And I have no doubt about the pressure the Nawaz Sharif mafia will be putting on the judges,” he said, adding: “If they can offer Rs10 billion to a person like me… then imagine how much pressure will be there on the judges.”

Mr Khan alleged that taxpayers’ money was being used to “buy” people in order to save “a criminal prime minister”.

PTI chief fears ‘pressure’ on judges

Besides the PTI, the main petitioner, the demand that the court announce its verdict early has been echoed by other parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI).

Accompanied by senior PTI leaders, Mr Khan drew the attention of the judges towards “the deteriorating economic conditions” in the country. “That’s why I request the honourable judges to announce the verdict early, if possible, so that we can move forward.”

The PTI chief lashed out at Prime Minister Sharif for visiting the Maldives at a time when the nation was in grief because of a terrorist attack in Lahore. He alleged that the prime minister had himself sought the invitation for the visit.

He also claimed that a number of countries had withdrawn invitations to Mr Sharif after coming to know that he had been facing “criminal” investigations.

Mr Khan said the Sindh Assembly had adopted a resolution seeking the prime minister’s resignation and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly would soon pass a similar resolution.

He said the lawyers were also demanding that the prime minister step down after the findings of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which probed money laundering charges against his family in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks.

The PTI chief alleged that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was making attempts to malign him and his party’s leaders in a bid to hide its decades-long corruption.

He said that instead of defending themselves, Mr Sharif and his henchmen were trying to prove that every politician was corrupt.

Mr Khan also criticised a comparison between himself and the Sharifs, saying that he had brought money to the country whereas the ruling family had sent wealth abroad after committing corruption.

He said he had provided complete financial details and all money trails for the purchase of his London flat.

Replying to a question, Mr Khan said his disqualification would be a very little price to free Pakistan from “this corrupt mafia”.

Declaring that Mr Sharif would not be able to escape, the PTI chief announced that his party would arrange “historic celebrations in the streets of Islamabad once the prime minister is disqualified”.

‘Double standards’

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah accused the PTI chairman of adopting “double standards” while defending himself in his disqualification case in the Supreme Court.

Talking to reporters at the Parliament House, Mr Shah said Mr Khan should not “dictate” the SC.

He said it would also be a “double standard” if the SC disqualified one person and spared the other.

“It will be a double standard. If the SC cannot disqualify one person, then it cannot disqualify the other as well,” he said in reply to a question about Mr Khan’s position before the court that it was not a forum to disqualify parliamentarians.

JI chief Sirajul Haq, speaking at a workshop at his party’s headquarters in Mansoora through video link, also appealed to the court to announce its decision at the earliest and also lay down a system for the eradication of corruption.

Mr Haq said that after the prime minister, around 450 people named in the Panama Papers and those who had devoured billions of rupees should also be held accountable and every penny of the public recovered from them.

He said the JI also wanted the accountability of PPP co-chairman Asif Zardari and former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, besides political turncoats seeking refuge by shifting loyalties.

QWP chief Aftab Sherpao earlier made an appeal to the judges for an early verdict.