Sharif Leaves for Pakistan, Promises Probe Into Panama Papers Leak
LONDON: Embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today left for Pakistan amid a raging scandal back home over his family's offshore wealth after the Panama Papers leak mentioned his children's name for having shell companies.
Sharif dashed to the UK last week for "medical treatment" amid reports he was under immense pressure to quit over the unfolding scandal, that mentioned the names of his two sons and a daughter as having shell companies through which they owned expensive residential properties in London.
The timing of his UK visit had prompted rumours that Sharif might not return to the country until investigations were completed and that his government may fall over the leak. Interestingly, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is also facing allegations of tax evasion following the leak of 11 million documents from a Panamanian firm.
Before leaving for Pakistan after a week-long stay in the UK, Sharif told media that he was in favour of setting up a formal investigation into the scandal.
Sharif, an affluent businessman with interests in the steel sector, said efforts were underway to appoint a judge and finalise his team to carry out the formal probe.
The 66-year-old prime minister accused his opponents of conspiring against his UK visit.
Sharif criticised Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan for creating hurdles for development work his government wants to undertake, after Khan threatened to hold sit-in outside Sharif’s palatial residence near Lahore, if he failed to hold an independent probe into the Panama Papers leak.
"The majority of Pakistanis reject politics of protests and sit-ins and are in favour of continued development and peace," he said.
The cricketer-turned-politician has said that Sharif never thought to clear the air on the scandal around his wealth.
Sharif said he had undergone some medical tests in London and the results were satisfactory.
"With the prayers of my nation, my health has improved. I am feeling better and returning to Pakistan today."