ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said on Saturday that two former Supreme Court chief justices had refused to head the judicial commission instated to probe claims made by the Panama Papers regarding offshore assets belonging to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family.
"So far the revelations coming out of the Panama leaks are just allegations. Russia, Britain, Argentina, and other countries have dismissed them as lies. It has only been the Prime Minister of Pakistan who took notice, addressed the nation, and announced a judicial commission to investigate the claims," said the federal minister.
"It was the government's wish that the commission should be headed by a former chief justice, but after criticism from the opposition, two candidates who had been contacted backed out. No former chief justice wants to be involved with these allegations."
Nisar added that the commission could have been formed sooner had the judges not refused.
The also minister said that for four days he had been trying to determine what offshore companies are. "If I did not know what offshore companies are, how would the nation at large know?"
In addition, the interior minister also announced that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is also ready to investigate the claims against the Prime Minister's family arising from the Panama Papers.
"If Imran Khan wishes to have the FIA investigate the claims made by the Panama leaks, the Interior Ministry is ready for it, but this decision is not up to the Interior Ministry," said Nisar.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan had earlier called on the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Board of Revenue, and the Election Commission of Pakistan ─ but not FIA ─ to investigate offshore property held by members of the Sharif property.
"Any officer or team that Imran Khan picks will be given the authority to carry out investigations of the claims in the leaks. There should be no levying of accusations now." The Interior M
Chaudhry Nisar said that he had not already launched an investigation into allegations based on the Panama Papers due to past accusations of nepotism and exerting undue influence on FIA proceedings.
"Now that Imran Khan has called for an agency to investigate, I invite him to name a team or officer to investigate."
Discussing Khan's request to the Secretary Information of the state-run Pakistan Television to make arrangements for a live address to the nation, the Interior Minister also said the PTI chairman "has no right to" address the nation live on Pakistan Television.
"Nowhere in the world does a leader of the opposition address the nation on state television. Imran Khan is not even that, with only 30 seats in the National Assembly."
Remarking on the PTI chairman's calls for a march in Islamabad, the information minister said, "We have decided not to seal Islamabad, and won't allow any political party to stage protests at D-Chowk."
Imran welcomes offer
PTI chairman Imran Khan welcomed the Interior Minister’s offer to nominate any FIA official and has requested to nominate Dr Shoaib Suddle to head an independent commission to investigate the Panama Papers’ claims.
"Shoaib Suddle holds great professional credibility and expertise in investigating white collar crime, and he should be given full authority to carry out an independent investigation into the Panama Papers," said Khan in a press statement.
Imran Khan, in a National Assembly session on Thursday, had demanded a judicial commission under the current chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) to probe Panama Papers.
"We demand an empowered commission under the chief justice of Pakistan, if the commission is not empowered, then there is no benefit of having one (judicial commission)," said Imran while addressing the chair in the assembly.
"We will not let this issue be shoved under the carpet."