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'Sharif vows to clear children's names in Panama Papers issue'

By Sajjad Hussain
April 21, 2016 13:44 IST
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Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed to have the name of his three children cleared in the 'Panama Papers' issue and is weighing all options to deal with the accusations of money laundering and tax evasion, according to a media report.

Dawn News reported that Sharif wants to complete the probe into the issue as soon as possible whether it is through the judicial commission he announced earlier or through some other forum.

Sharif returned from London on Tuesday after a week-long stay for medical treatment and was reportedly under immense pressure to come clear after the 'Panama papers' reported that his sons Hassan and Hussian and daughter Maryam were owners of offshore companies, the daily said.

The prime minister had promised setting up of a special commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court to lead the probe into the issue before going to London but this was rejected by the opposition.

If an agreement cannot be reached with opposition parties over the formation of a judicial commission, the option of a joint parliamentary committee as suggested by the Pakistan People's Party leadership could also be utilised, the prime minister's aides were quoted as saying.

One of the federal government's legal advisers told the daily that, "We have done our homework and the next move will be made after the PM is briefed -- in a day or two -- about talks with leaders of parliamentary parties that Senator Ishaq Dar has held over the past few days."

A Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker, involved in the discussions over the government's possible response to the opposition parties' demands, was quoted as saying that "the government is also brainstorming the option of formally asking for the Chief Justice of Pakistan's input if the commission can be formed under his aegis or a serving judge of the Supreme Court."

The lawmaker said that in case of a continued disagreement with the opposition, there was every likelihood that the government would go ahead with the commission.

Whatever level and forum is employed, the lawmaker said one thing was certain that the matter of the Panama Papers will be addressed legally so that it cannot create future problems for the premier's three children.

According to the documents, three of Sharif's four children -- Maryam, Hasan and Hussain -- "were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies".

The prime minister and his family have dismissed allegations of money laundering and denied any wrongdoing but the opposition is demanding an independent probe.

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Sajjad Hussain in Islamabad
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