In a jolt to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a probe into the Panama Papers scandal involving corruption allegations against the family of the beleaguered premier.
The Supreme Court heard several identical petitions by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and others to investigate charges of corruption against Sharif and his relatives after the Panama Papers released earlier this year showed his family owning offshore companies and assets.
The larger five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Amir Hani Muslim, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan conducted the hearing in presence of several cabinet ministers, lawyers of petitioners, senior PTI leaders and media.
The apex court said it was ready to appoint a probe commission headed by a judge and armed with powers of the Supreme Court.
The court also ordered the government and petitioners to present their Terms of Reference (ToR) for the probe panel. It court will decide to harmonise the ToR if the parties could not come up with the agreed set of ToR.
Before its adjournment till Thursday, the court also expressed willingness to hold hearings on a daily basis.
However, the court did not ban the protest by PTI on Wednesday in Islamabad. But it advised the government and opposition to show restraint.
Addressing a press conference outside Bani Gala, Khan thanked those who were part of his struggle against corruption.
“Go home and rest,” Khan told supporters, “You have to return to Islamabad on Wednesday to celebrate thanksgiving at Parade Ground.”
“I am elated that the investigation into Nawaz Sharif’s (alleged corruption) will begin from Thursday.”
PTI had announced the rally in Islamabad to force Sharif to resign for a fair probe into the scandal.
According to the Panama Papers, three of Sharif’s four children — Maryam, Hasan and Hussain — were owners of offshore companies and “were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies.”
Sharif and his family have dismissed the allegations of money laundering and denied any wrongdoing but the opposition is demanding an independent probe.