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Imran Khan gave live address to a nation

11 April, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday, in a live address to the nation from his Bani Gala residence here, demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government form an inquiry commission led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan to probe the premier and his family following the startling revelations made in the Panama data leaks.

“The commission should also include white-collar-crime experts and an audit firm that follows the trail of money to determine where it leads,” Imran added.

The PTI chief said he will give the government time till Apr 24 – his party's 20th foundation day – to take appropriate action, after which he will announce a future course of action.

“We give you time till Apr 24 to form a commission on these lines. If the rest of the world is investigating, we will give them the opportunity to take action. I will come out with a future course of action on Apr 24.”

The PTI chief threatened a protest sit-in outside the Sharif family residence in Raiwind, if the government did not take steps to form the commission.

“This is the time to stand up. I promise my countrymen that I will not step back this time. The dharna had to be abandoned because of an incident [the Army Public School attack] but I promise my countrymen I will not back down this time. If need be we will go to Raiwind and stage sit-ins there.”

Presenting a charge sheet against the premier including accusations of “corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and perjury,” Imran Khan demanded that Nawaz Sharif resign as the prime minister of Pakistan.

“Given the seriousness of these allegations, Nawaz Sharif has lost the moral authority to rule.

“They [the government] are not talking about the serious allegations against them but have taken to attacking Shaukat Khanum hospital. Will our institutions silently observe all of this? Where is the FBR, the FIA, NAB?”

On Friday, in a letter sent by the PTI secretariat to PTV’s secretary of information, the PTI chairman requested state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) to ‘make arrangements for his live address to the nation’ on Sunday night.

Imran justified his use of the same forum the government earlier used to spread “disinformation” regarding Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre.

“Since the Panama Leaks have come to the fore, the prime minister, the information minister and various MNAs of the ruling PML-N have used PTV's network to spread disinformation amongst the masses regarding Shaukat Khanum Hospital,” the letter had claimed.

The letter justified Imran Khan's right to use the station's platform, saying the television network “runs solely on taxpayers' money, which makes PTV a network of each and every Pakistani citizen.”

Following Imran Khan’s press conference in Peshawar after the Panama data leak – in which he accused the Sharif family of 'amassing wealth through corruption' – the government’s team took the fight to the PTI chief when they accused him of ‘losing’ an investment of nearly $18 million, allegedly made from Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust (SKMT) funds.

The five-member panel, which was led by Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, included CADD Minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Privatisation Commission Chair­man Mohammad Zubair and MNAs Daniyal Aziz and Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha

Brandishing documents regarding SKMT finances, Rashid claimed that an investment of $28m was made from the trust’s funds, but it was later discovered that the property was worth around $10m. This, he said, was no secret because it was mentioned in financial statements for the years 2010 and 2014.

Daniyal Aziz alleged Imtiaz Hydari, chairman of SKMT’s investment committee, was also the CEO, executive vice chairman and board director of HBG Holdings Ltd — the Dubai-based company through which the money was invested.

Ruling out the possibility of the prime minister’s resignation, the information minister said that the Panama Papers had only made certain private information public, but raised no questions about the Sharif family, unlike the case of the Icelandic prime minister, who had to step down.

He also taunted Imran Khan, saying that since the PTI was losing political space, it was trying to achieve political gains by lying to the people.

The government, he said, was always ready to present itself for accountability, adding that this was the second judicial commission they had formed since coming to power.

The Panama Papers, a global investigation into the sprawling, secretive industry of offshore that the world’s rich and powerful use to hide assets and skirt rules by setting up front companies in far-flung jurisdictions, jolted the whole world last week.

Based on a trove of more than 11 million leaked files, the investigation exposes a cast of characters who use offshore companies for a plethora of reasons.

According to documents available on the ICIJ website, PM Nawaz Sharif’s children Mariam, Hasan and Hussain “were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies”.

Mariam is described as “the owner of British Virgin Islands-based firms Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited, incorporated in 1994 and 1993”.

On one of the documents released by ICIJ, the address listed for Nielsen Enterprises is Saroor Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The document, dated June 2012, describes Mariam Safdar as the ‘beneficial owner’.

According to ICIJ, “Hussain and Mariam signed a document dated June 2007 that was part of a series of transactions in which Deutsche Bank Geneva lent up to $13.8 million to Nescoll, Nielsen and another company, with their London properties as collateral.”

In July 2014, the two companies were transferred to another agent.

Hasan Nawaz Sharif is described as “the sole director of Hangon Property Holdings Limited incorporated in the British Virgin Islands in February 2007, which acquired Liberia-based firm Cascon Holdings Establishment Limited for about $11.2 million in August 2007”.

In response to the uproar caused by the revelations, the PM announced a high-level judicial commission will be formed to probe his family for wrongdoing.

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