Opposition predicts `disaster` if PM stays put
By Syed Irfan Raza
ISLAMABAD: The opposition on Wednesday stepped up its campaign for the prime minister`s resignation, contending that the country`s entire political machinery had been paralysed by the shocking report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on Panama Papers case.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples Party(PPP) held a total of three press conferences in the capital on Wednesday, and said that the prime minister`s decision to retain his position may lead to a political disaster.
PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry claimed that the primeminister would resign before next Thursday, or he would be disqualified. He accused the prime minister of using his political party for money laundering.
Separately, Leader of theOpposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah contacted the parliamentary heads of some other opposition parties to formulate a joint strategy to meet the situation arising in the aftermath of the JIT report.
`It is now crystal clear that the prime minister and his government have become controversial and the entire government machinery has been paralysed, as all federal ministers are engaged in defending Nawaz Sharif instead of running the af f airs of the country, PPP secretary general Senator Farhatullah Babar told a joint press conference at Zardari House.
He urged the prime minister to step down and unveil the `conspiracy` being hatched against him. `If you do not leave office, the danger foreseen by the opposition can become imminent.
PPP`s Aitzaz Ahsan said the JIT had exposed the modus operandi of the Sharif family. Responding to a question about the upcoming hearing in the Supreme Court on July 17, he said that as a first step, the apex court would give appropriate time to both the peddoners and the respondents to comment on the report.
PPP vice president Sherry Rehman said Nawaz Sharif had lost all moral authority when his name surfaced in the Panama Papers, but following the JIT report, he had lost all legal authority to serve as the chief executive of the country.
Separately, PTI leader Asad Umar called for the PM and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to resign over their alleged role in money laundering.
`All political parties are now joining hands to demand the PM`s resignation and it will be better for the PM to resign with dignity,` he told a joint press conference with PTI leader Shafgat Mehmood.
Mr Umar also claimed that Mr Dar`s confession during the Supreme Courtsanctioned investigation into the Sharif family`s wealth had been corroborated by other evidence and proven correct.
He said that Mr Dar had appointed his friend as the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), who was now facing an FIR on the Supreme Court`s orders.
`Do you really want to hold on to your position, Mr Dar? How long will you keep defending and facilitating looters,` he asked.
He recalled PM Sharif`s words: `I will go home without a moment`s delay if any wrongdoing is proven against me`, saying that if the prime minister had resigned 15 months ago, he would not have seen this day.
Answering a question on how the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project might be affected by a regime change, if any,Mr Umar categorically said that all political parties supported the CPEC and the project was not dependent on any government.
`China remains the closest friend of Pakistan, irrespective of who is in power here,` he added.
PTI information secretary Shafgat Mehmood asked why SECP chairman Zafar Hijazi remained in office despite the Supreme Court`s order to register a criminal case against him over alleged record-tampering.
`I ask you Mr Dar, how can he remain the chairman? Who knows better than you that the SECP regulates all industrial and economic institutions, which keep the country`s economy going. It regulates the stock exchange where hundreds of billions are traded. Should a person against whom an FIR has been filed remain the SECP chairman?` he asked.
In another presser, PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said the prime minister also misused the office of PML-N president, as none of the rules and regulations of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had been observed by his party in maintaining a record of its funding and an audit of its finances.
He raised questions about the party structure, saying that the ruling party has no registered office in the country and no record of its finances. `It is astonishing that PMLN says their offices in Lahore and Islamabad were taken over by the PML-Q.
He said PML-N spent over Rs1.3billion on its election campaign in 2013, but the party did not have any record of that spending.
He said the JIT reported that PM Sharif had donated Rs10 billion to the party and withdrew Rs6 billion, insisting that he was using the party to hide his `black money`.
In a late-night development, PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi met Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar to take his party on board for efforts to press the prime minister to resign.