PKMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai calls on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Soon after the Supreme Court reserved its verdict in the Panama Papers case on Friday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presided over a meeting of the PML-N and reiterated his stance that he would not quit office.

The PML-N also decided to file a civil miscellaneous application before the Supreme Court to challenge Volume-10 of the report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) about mutual legal assistance sought from different countries.

The second consecutive absence of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan from the PML-N meeting confirmed that he has some reservations with the party leadership. According to media reports, he remained busy in some work in Punjab House, but did not attend the meeting.

Speculation rife as Nisar skips another PML-N meeting

Talking to Dawn, Prime Minister’s Adviser Barrister Zafarullah said the meeting was focused on the Panama Papers case and did not consider the option of a new prime minister. “Why should we consider the thing which will not happen.”

In fact, he said, it was a routine meeting in which the PML-N’s legal team gave details of Friday’s proceedings of the Supreme Court.

Barrister Zafarullah said the prime minister and the party’s legal team expressed satisfaction that Nawaz Sha­rif would not be affected in the Panama case’s decision as the JIT could not establish his direct link with offshore properties of the Sharif family.

However, some private TV channels claimed that some names, including that of Khawaja Asif, were considered in the meeting for the post of prime minister in case Mr Sharif was disqualified.

In reply to a question about Volume-10 of the JIT report, he said it seemed that the Supreme Court had not considered it and without cross-questioning on it the court reserved its judgement. “The law says that a document without arguments of the respondents cannot be used in any case,” he said. “We do not believe that there was any atom bomb in Volume-10.”

PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz, while talking to Dawn, said his party would soon file a civil miscellaneous application in the Supreme Court to challenge the JIT report, especially its Volume-10.

He expressed dissatisfaction over the apex court’s proceedings. “It seems that the proceedings were one-sided,” he said.

He said the British Virgin Islands had confirmed in its letter that it had not provided any document to the JIT as the requirement of mutual legal assistance was not fulfilled. “Now it has been proved that the JIT only acted upon a letter of the Dubai government which also seems to be a ‘fixed match’,” he said.

Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said Mr Sharif reiterated in the meeting that he would not resign as he was elected by the people.

She said the Supreme Court had also expressed dissatisfaction over the JIT report. “The report is based on assumptions and not a categorical investigation,” she added.

The minister said the JIT report had failed to prove any direct link of the prime minister with the Sharif family’s property in London and any other corrupt practice.

Nisar’s absence

Later, a spokesman for the interior ministry rejected media stories about Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and announced that the minister would hold a press conference on Sunday to tell the media why he skipped two important party meetings.

Media reports said Chaudhry Nisar had decided to quit the PML-N. However, the interior ministry spokesman said Chaudhry Nisar refuted all news about his resignation attributed to sources close to him.

The spokesman said media was requested not to make speculations regarding the interior minister.

Marriyum Aurangzeb also rejected any possibility of Chaudhry Nisar’s resignation and said running such stories without any confirmation from the minister or his spokesman was not fair.

She said Chaudhry Nisar worked in his office on Friday and had a meeting with Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq. “Please do not speculate unless the situation is cleared by Chaudhry Nisar himself,” she said.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2017