Islamabad: Amid the current furore over offshore assets of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family revealed in the Panama leaks, the Pakistani army chief on Tuesday called for the eradication of corruption and pledged full support of the armed forces in such a campaign.
“Across the broad accountability is necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan,” General Raheel Sharif said while speaking at an army function in the city of Kohat in northwestern Khyber Pakthtunkhwa province.
“Pakistan Armed Forces will fully support every meaningful effort in that direction, which would ensure a better future for our next generations,” he said, according to a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations.
The ongoing war against terrorism and extremism being fought with the backing of the entire nation “cannot bring enduring peace and stability unless the menace of corruption is not uprooted,” Sharif said.
During his visit to the garrison city of Kohat, the Chief of Army Staff pinned the badges of rank on the shoulders of Major General Sohail Ahmad Zaidi, Singnal-in-Chief to formally install him Colonel Commandant of Corps of Signal.
Interacting with officers, men and families of ‘Shuhada’ (martyrs), the army chief commended the extraordinary efforts of ranks of signals Corps in providing communication support to the Zarb-e-Azb military operation against terrorists.
He also appreciated the sacrifices rendered both by men in uniform and civilians alike in defeating militants and dislodging them from their bases.
Domestic television channels highlighted the significance of the army chief’s statement, linking it to the controversy triggered by the Panama leaks that mentioned over 200 Pakistanis with offshore assets, including the PM’s family members.
Before leaving for London last week for medical treatment, Nawaz Sharif announced he would set up a commission under a retired Supreme Court judge to probe allegations in the wake of Panama leaks.
He rejected allegations of money laundering, asserting his two sons, Hassan and Hussain, have legitimate businesses abroad and had not done anything illegal.
But the commission move has apparently faced hurdles as several former judges approached by the government declined to get involved.
And the opposition, especially the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by firebrand politician Imran Khan insists the country’s sitting chief justice should head a commission, which should be assisted by experts and an international forensic audit firm.
The government’s efforts to form an inquiry commission after consultations with opposition parties are expected to gain momentum after the prime minister’s impending return from London.
Media reports from London quoted Nawaz Sharif as saying before his departure from the British capital on Tuesday that he was feeling much better.
“I am going back to my country right now, where I will once again start working for the revival of its economy,” he told reporters outside his UK residence.
In response to a question, the prime minister said Pakistan needs peace and stability for its economic revival and the nation has rejected negative politics.
“A large number of Pakistanis want peace and stability in the country instead of the politics of sit-ins,” he said, addding that a commission would be formed soon to probe allegations over Panama leaks.
PTI leader Imran Khan, just back from London, told a news confernece in northwestern provincial capital, Peshawar that what the army chief had stated “is … what the whole nation demands.”
“We shall not step back from our demand for independent probe on offshore holdings,” he said, adding that he w Aould spell out future line of acton in his address to a planned massive gathering in Islamabad on April 24.