Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looks out the window of his plane after attending a ceremony to inaugurate the M9 motorway between Karachi and Hyderabad, Pakistan February 3, 2017. Picture taken February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz - RTS16O56
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said that he will not resign in spite of the Joint Investigation Team's (JIT) report concluding that he and his family concealed assets from tax authorities and committed perjury by submitting fake documents to support their claims.
The opposition parties have been calling for the 67-year-old's resignation after his name surfaced in the 2015 Panama Papers leak that had financial details of more than 2 lakh offshore entities.
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, former union ministers, members of the Senate and several businessmen were also named in the Panama Papers.
Under pressure after his name first cropped up in a scandal that came to be known as Panamagate, Sharif in a nationwide address on April 5, 2016, declared setting up of a judicial committee led by a retired Supreme Court. However, no such committee was named.
When the demands were not met, opposition parties such as former cricketer Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan People's Party stage nationwide protests and sit-ins asking Sharif to resign.
Under fire, in a second nationwide address on April 22, 2016, Sharif announced that he would resign if he was proven guilty in the Panama Papers case.
In the court hearings that followed, attempts were made by Nawaz Sharif's lawyers to disassociate his daughter Maryam Sharif from Nielson and Nescoll (two offshore companies listed in the Panama Papers) with whom she was linked.
On April 20, 2017, the Supreme Court said there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif and announced formation of the JIT.
The JIT was to investigate the real beneficiaries of the said offshore companies, authenticity of a letter written by Qatar's former prime minister that spoke of cash transactions being customary and probe the role of Sharif's three children within 60 days.
In the JIT report submitted on July 10, the team said that Sharif, his sons and daughter Maryam Sharif were not able to justify their assets and income. Another offshore company FZE Capital, which was managed by Nawaz Sharif until 2014, was also discovered. Maryam Sharif was proved to be the beneficial owner of two offshore companies Nielson and Nescoll.
The report also held Maryam guilty of falsifying evidence before the Supreme Court. It said that Calibri font was used in documents that were showed to be from 2006, whereas the font was not publicly available until January 2007.
Nawaz Sharif has challenged the findings of this report in the Supreme Court.
While the legal process is expected to take a long time, with just a year left for the General Election, the current developments may have have dented his prospects already.