ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf chairman Imran Khan is leading a party rally today to rail against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, seizing on the Panama Papers leak linking Sharif’s family with offshore wealth as a second chance to unseat the leader.
Former cricket hero Khan, who staged protests in Islamabad for months in 2014 over alleged electoral fraud, has threatened to call new demonstrations for Sharif’s resignation, saying this month the prime minister has lost the “moral authority to rule”.
“We demand the resignation of the prime minister on moral grounds,” said Shafqat Mahmood, a senior leader of the PTI.
This month, leaked documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama showed Sharif’s sons Hassan and Hussain, and daughter Maryam, owned at least three offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which studied the papers, said those companies had engaged in at least $25 million in property and acquisition deals.
Sharif said his children have done nothing wrong – he gave in to opposition demands for a Supreme Court appointed inquiry commission on Friday and said he would resign if it found wrongdoing – but opponents accuse the family of using the tax haven to launder stolen money and dodge taxes.
The ruling party has dismissed Khan’s threat of fresh protests and says the 2014 demonstrations against electoral rigging had also damaged Khan’s credibility after election tribunals ruled that the 2013 poll was largely free and fair.
“Imran is just really desperate for any kind of shortcut to becoming prime minister and with these leaks he thinks he’s hit the jackpot,” Muhammad Zubair, minister for privatization and a member of the prime minister’s media team, told Reuters.
“But it would be a big mistake to launch any movement right now … The public is just tired of his agitational politics.”
Khan, who captained Pakistan to its only cricket World Cup victory in 1992, is expected to draw thousands to an Islamabad park later today.- Reuters