Pak SC orders to form judicial panel to probe against PM Sharif
In a setback to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered to form a judicial commission to probe into the Panama Papers scandal involving corruption allegations against the family of the beleaguered premier, who is under pressure from Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), to step down.
A five-member Bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, conducted the hearing in the presence of several ministers, lawyers, senior PTI leaders and media, just a day before a rally proposed by Khan who had vowed to bring one million supporters to shut down Islamabad demanding Sharif’s ouster.
The court heard several identical petitions by Khan and others to investigate into 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 apex court said it was ready to appoint a probe commission headed by a judge and armed with powers of the Supreme Court. “The commission will report to the Supreme Court,” the chief justice said, adding that the commission will have the same authority as the top court.
The decision of the commission will be considered as the court’s ruling and will be binding on all parties.
The court ordered the government and petitioners to present their Terms of Reference (ToR) for the probe panel.
The 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 in Islamabad on Wednesday. But it advised the government and opposition to show restraint.
Reacting to the court's ruling, Khan said the planned anti-government rally would now be marked as a day of thanksgiving in Islamabad.
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, adding that: "You have to return to Islamabad tomorrow to celebrate thanksgiving at Parade Ground."
"I am elated that the investigation into Nawaz Sharif's (alleged corruption) will begin day after tomorrow," he said.
The 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.
Meanwhile, the government has taken elaborate measures to foil the protest and any effort to lockdown the capital as PTI chief Khan has threatened in several speeches.
All entry points to the capital are being monitored and scores of PTI workers have been arrested.
A major rally led by chief minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa was teargassed and forced to return late Monday night. The PTI is in power in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and hopes for a major influx of youth from the province to boost the strength of the protest.
In Punjab, which is controlled by 66-yar-old Sharif’s ruling PML-N, hundreds of PTI workers have been arrested.
Official sources said close to 2,000 people were arrested to maintain law and order. But PTI claims that thousands of its workers were arrested.
Imran Khan backs down from threat to shut down capital
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan opposition leader Imran Khan backed down from his threat to shut down the capital on Wednesday, vowing instead to hold a celebratory rally about a Supreme Court decision to pursue a case linked to PM Nawaz Sharif. “On the Supreme Court’s advice, we have decided that tomorrow we will thank God and celebrate a Day of Thanks at (Islamabad’s) parade ground,” Khan said outside his home in Islamabad on Tuesday. The celebratory rally is a step back from his threat to paralyse the city and the government, and is likely to ease tension that has boiled over into violence in the days ahead of the planned protest in the capital. Agencies