The prime minister rebuked his political arch-rival for his party’s street agitation over the Panama Papers scandal, asking him to wait for a proposed judicial commission to complete its inquiry into claims that the Sharif family has set up offshore companies through money laundering.
“[PTI Chairman] Imran Khan believes in power politics. He should wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court’s commission on the Panama leaks. I assure you I will not stay in office if proven guilty,” Nawaz Sharif said while addressing a public rally in Bunnu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the province where the PTI is in power.
Nawaz was referring to a judicial inquiry into revelations in the Panama Papers that three scions of the Sharif family were among dozens of world politicians and businessmen who have offshore companies in a tax haven. He, however, insisted the allegations against him were baseless.
Imran has been leading the chorus calling for the resignation of the prime minister who, according to him, has lost the moral authority to stay in power. In his address, Premier Nawaz repeatedly hit out at the PTI, saying Imran’s party was wasting public funds on sit-ins.
He said wherever he went in K-P he was distressed to see old crumbling government buildings, dilapidated hospitals, damaged infrastructure and untidy schools.
“Those who promised a ‘Naya Pakistan’ or ‘Naya K-P’ are wasting public money by staging sit-in demonstrations. They have done nothing for the province,” he said, adding that the PTI had hoodwinked K-P’s people and that “we will bring the real change here”.
Speaking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said the multibillion-dollar project was a game-changer for the whole region which would bring huge investment and infrastructural development to the country.
Premier Nawaz said he was in Bannu to launch several development and welfare projects for the people, who, he claimed, had been ignored by the K-P government. He announced upgrading of roads from Kohat to Sarai Kambela and Sarai Kambela to Dera Ismail Khan and enhancing electricity generation capacity of a 350 MW power house in Bannu to 700 MW. He also announced establishing a university in Lakki Marwat and announced construction of an international airport in Bannu and setting up economic zones in Kohat and Karak, which, he said, would bring prosperity to the region.
The prime minister announced provision of Rs200 million each for the district and tehsil councils of Bannu. Nawaz also performed groundbreaking of gas pipelines at five union councils of the city.
Premier Nawaz donned traditional turban as a symbol of honour associated with the K-P culture. The stage was covered with an array of green and white balloons depicting the bi-colour national flag. The public gathering was a show of solidarity demonstrated by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Speaking on the occasion, the cleric-politician hit out at the PTI government which, he said, was “busy killing mice and cannot dare the lion [Nawaz Sharif]”. He lamented that no attention had been paid to the underdeveloped areas of the country over the past 67 years.
The Maulana said across-the-board accountability was imperative to put the country on the road to progress, and to eliminate the curse of corruption.
Without naming the PTI chief, he said that those criticising the Sharif family today should not forget that they also have secret assets and offshore companies in their name.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2016.