Imran Khan, Chaudhry Nisar depart for UK
LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan became the latest political leaders to depart for London on Thursday, joining others from the country's political elite who have traveled abroad in the last few days.
Their departure comes a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif arrived in London for what his office said is 'medical treatment', at a time when he is under fire from opposition parties for his family's off-shore accounts exposed by the Panama Papers.
Imran Khan and Nisar boarded the same Pakistan International Airlines flight for the British capital. PTI leaders Jahangir Tareen and Aleem Khan are accompanying Imran on the flight.
Once in the UK, Imran will hold two fundraisers and a rally for Kashmir in Birmingham, events the PTI says had been scheduled months in advance.
The PTI chief will also be meeting "two companies specialising in forensic tax audits" to start an independent probe on the premier and his family after the startling revelations made in the Panama data leaks, he told reporters before his departure.
Examine: Panama and pajama games
The final destination of the interior minister, however, is not the UK but Germany. Nisar at a press conference on Wednesday said he would travel to Germany for a two-day visit to seek medical treatment for his wife.
‘Nawaz in London to seek Zardari’s help’
PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan earlier said PM Nawaz has gone to London to seek Asif Ali Zardari’s advice on the Panama Papers and the rapid political developments underway since then.
He went on to say that the premier also had to sort out internal disputes that have arisen within the Sharif family regarding “inheritance.”
Nawaz Sharif cancelled scheduled visits to Karachi and then Turkey, while Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also cancelled a scheduled visit to Washington for IMF and World Bank meetings “in light of the PM’s visit to the UK” for ─ ostensibly ─ ‘medical reasons’.
The prime minister had a stopover in Moscow en route to London and Chaudhry Nisar, while talking to journalists, explained that it was done on doctors’ advice, Dawn newspaper reported.
But one wonders when his condition was so serious that he could not take a direct flight to London, why he did not opt for an air ambulance.
Although not a politically prudent decision to leave the country at a time when opposition parties are exerting pressure on the government in the wake of the Panama leaks, the same reason necessitated the visit, a PML-N office-bearer told Dawn.
“The prime minister was looking quite weak when he visited the Planning and Development Ministry a few days ago and the disclosures of his sons’ involvement in offshore business definitely had its political and health costs,” he added.
Panama Papers and the PTI
The day news of the Panama Papers broke, Imran Khan claimed that the revelations in the Panama Papers vindicated his party's stance and reiterated his call for fresh elections and probes by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Federal Board of Revenue, and the Election Commission of Pakistan.
As Imran Khan rejected a ‘one-member judicial commission’ announced by the PM to probe his family, calling instead for a forensic audit by NAB, and then nominated Dr Shoaib Suddle to initiate a thorough investigation into the financial holdings of the PM, his party shows no sign of letting the issue settle.
Later, in an address to the nation, the PTI chief demanded that PM Nawaz Sharif’s government form an inquiry commission led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan to probe the premier and his family following the startling revelations made in the Panama data leaks.
The PTI chief said he will give the government time till Apr 24 – his party's 20th foundation day – to take appropriate action, after which he will announce a future course of action.