JIT-hit Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif seeks cabinet support

13 July 2017

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has convened a meeting of the cabinet to take members into confidence and chalk out a strategy to end the ongoing political turmoil that the ruling party is facing over a report submitted by a joint investigation team (JIT) in connection with the leaked Panama Papers.

The JIT in its final report on the money laundering case against the Sharif family, submitted on 10 July, had recommended that a corruption case be filed against Sharif and his sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, as well as daughter Maryam Nawaz, under the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance, 1999.

The JIT probing the Panama Papers, in its report to the supreme court, accused Shairif's wife Maryam Sharif of forgery. The JIT has charged the ruling family with perjury, having disproportionate income and living beyond their means. It said Sharif failed to satisfactorily answer most of the questions put to him during his appearance before investigators on 15 June.

"He was generally evasive and seemed preoccupied during the interview. Major part of his statement was based on hearsay," the report said, adding that Sharif remained non-committal, speculative and at times non-cooperative while recording his statement. The report further said Sharif tried to "parry most of the questions" by giving indefinite answers or by stating that "he does not remember, ostensibly to conceal facts".

If the SC decides to implement the report, perhaps by next week, Sharif might either be removed or, at the very least, be rendered completely ineffectual. This could have implications for India in the coming weeks and months, particularly in the security sphere.

But, with Sharif in no mood to resign and political unrest spreading across the country and opposition parties demanding resignation of the PM, today's meeting is expected to discuss overall political, security and economic situation of Pakistan as well, a report in the Pakistan news channel Dunya News stated.

Nawaz Sharif had, yesterday, chaired a consultative meeting of his party leaders during which it was decided that he will not resign over the Panama controversy. The members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have already shown their confidence and support to the prime minister.  (PML-N) will be holding another meeting in Islamabad on Friday to review Panama JIT report.

However, the JIT's findings have severely shaken Sharif's position, giving more ammunition to opposition and the military, which could have serious implications for India's security.

Sharif's discomfiture may strengthen the army, which is already the de facto government, and any passing of power into the hands of the Pakistan army will only help heighten the crisis in Kashmir.

 search domain-b