KARACHI: In what appears to be a tit-for-tat move against the PTI chief, who is demanding a probe commission headed by the chief justice of Pakistan over Panama Papers leak, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that an inquiry should also be held into Rs4 billion collected by the Imran Khan Foundation (IKF) in 2010 for flood-affected people.

Accompanied by PML-N workers, he was talking to reporters in London before leaving for Pakistan. In reply to a question about the funds collected by the IKF, the premier said this issue “should also come to the surface”.

Last week, Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif proposed that an investigation should be held into IKF’s fund-raising campaign.

Sharif returns home after medical check-up in London

“Khawaja Asif has not shared any random or baseless thoughts,” Mr Sharif said. “He [Khawaja Asif] has studied that subject deeply. He has even briefed me about that issue. So I think things should be made clear and it should also come to the surface. These thoughts were highlighted when floods were there so I think one should look into details of these things as well and one should know about the facts.”

Mr Asif a few days ago turned to social media to question the IKF’s credibility about collection of funds.

“The commission [for investigation into Panama Papers leak] would be set up,” the prime minister said in reply to a question about the fate of the government’s proposal for inquiry under a retired judge.

“Chaudhry Nisar would have told you recently which people have been contacted in this regard. You would also be aware of the Supreme Court’s views about that subject. Despite all things happening I hope that commission would be set up for the inquiry.”

Without naming Imran Khan, the PM criticised the PTI and its leaders for “pulling legs” and said that some elements wanted to revive politics of 1990s because of their “political immaturity.”

“We are far behind among other nations of the world which is very unfortunate,” he said. “But at the time when we are catching up other countries through development and prosperity, I think the people within Pakistan should not create hurdles in this process of development. They should not stop progress of Pakistan.”

Mohammad Asghar adds from Rawalpindi: Brushing aside rumours about the possibility of his replacement, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned to the country on Tuesday night after a week-long ‘medical visit’ to London.

His special aircraft landed at Nur Khan Airbase in Islamabad from where he went to his official residence in the capital.

The prime minister was received by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and the PM’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi.

A week ago, Nawaz Sharif, accompanied by his wife, had left for London from Lahore on a ‘personal and medical visit’. During his stay in the United Kingdom, he had visited private hospital for his medical tests.

The premier’s presence in London, alongside PPP leader Asif Zardari and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, had raised eyebrows among political circles.

Nawaz Sharif and some members of his family are facing serious allegations in the wake of appearance of Panama Papers. Opposition parties are demanding formation of a judicial commission headed by the chief justice of Pakistan to investigate into off shore companies and assets allegedly owned by the Sharifs as exposed by the leaks.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2016


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