ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday tried to dispel the impression that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had left for the UK in a bid to quell the political storm brewing in the wake of the April 3 Panama Papers leaks.
“The prime minister has been facing heart problems for the past many years and this issue had exacerbated in the past two to three months. He has gone to London for medical treatment,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a press conference.
Nisar was speaking in an apparent reference to a statement made by PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan who on Tuesday claimed that Nawaz was going to the UK to seek the PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zadradi’s help to deal with the political crisis stirred by Panama Papers.
Panama Papers, a trove of over 11.5 million documents, had revealed that Prime Minister Nawaz’s three children were among the thousands of wealthy people from across the globe, who had stashed away their money in offshore companies.
The interior minister said doctors had advised the prime minister to take a three-day rest before leaving for UK. “The PM will also not take a direct flight and will take a two-hour break in Moscow,” he said, adding, “The prime minister will come back when the doctors will allow him.”
Nisar, who was addressing a press conference for the second time within a week, also renewed his offer to the opposition parties to sit together for formation of a ‘consensus commission’ to probe the Panama Papers scandal.
“Let’s sit together and write down terms of reference (TORs) detailing scope of the commission and its mandate as the issue will only be resolved through consensus instead of levelling allegations and counter allegations,” he added.
“The government is ready to take every step but unfortunately, opposition is trying to a make a political issue [out of the scandal] for political point-scoring,” he said, adding that “It seems there is a specific agenda to remove the government through undemocratic ways in the name of Panama Papers”
He said after the emergence of Panama Papers, the opposition created an environment which forced judges to refuse becoming part of the inquiry commission announced by the prime minister.
Nisar said the government had so far contacted five senior judges of the Supreme Court; however, they had refused to head the commission.
“These judges included Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Tassadiq Hussain Jilani, Amirul Mulk Mengal, Justice Sahir Ali and Justice Tanvir Ahmad,” he said.
Nisar said in his existing capacity he was not supposed to explain about the alleged offshore businesses of the PM’s sons. ‘About the offshore companies, the premier’s sons – Hassan and Hussain – will explain as I am unaware about their businesses,” he said.
PTI’s April 24 rally
The interior minister reiterated that the government will not give permission to the PTI to hold a protest in the capital’s high security Red-Zone. “The administration is ready to negotiate with the PTI to provide them an alternative venue,” he added.
“If the PTI workers tried to enter the Red Zone then the administration will take action and in case of any injuries and causalities the PTI will be responsible,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2016.
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