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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has sought details of payments made to the lawyers pursuing the Panama Papers case for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family and requested the Supreme Court to take notice of alleged ‘misuse of public money’.

PTI leader Andleeb Abbas wrote a letter to the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Fawwad Hassan Fawwad, seeking the details within 14 days under the Right to Information Act, 2013.

The party, which is fighting the Panama Papers case about offshore wealth against the prime minister and members of his family in the Supreme Court, has levelled allegations a number of times in the recent past that the fees of their lawyers were being paid from the nation exchequer or from the taxpayers’ money.

“Being a citizen of Pakistan and a taxpayer, under Article 19-A of the Constitution and Right to Information Act-2013, I need certified information pertaining to misuse of public office and funds for Mian Nawaz Sharif’s Panama leaks case in the Supreme Court,” the letter said.

The PTI leader raised four queries and demanded certified information on them.

Why federal ministers and MNAs, who were paid from the public money, were defending the Sharif family at the expense of taxpayers’ money, she asked.

The PTI had many times raised concern over ministers and parliamen-tarians holding press conferences almost daily from the platform of the state-run Press Information Department (PID).

Why the platform of the PID, which is the principal department of the ministry of information, was being used by PML-N MNAs to defend the Sharif family while the PID was being run on taxpayers’ money, Ms Abbas asked.

Why airtime on PTV was misused to explain the Sharif family’s point of view as a national address, she wondered.

Alleging a history of misusing public offices and resources for personal use, she said the taxpayers needed to know how the legal counsel for the prime minister and his family were being paid. Documentary evidence of the payment should be provided to clarify its source, she said.

She alleged that the Panama Papers leaks case of the Sharif family was blatantly being fought at the expense of taxpayers’ time, money and resources.

“We urge the Supreme Court to take notice of the misuse of public office for personal use,” she said.

“Kindly give me certified information and respond to these questions within 14 days as specified in the Right to Information Act, 2013,” the letter added.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2017