An emergency meeting of the federal cabinet on Thursday endorsed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s decision to not step down as the premier, even as clamour for his exit got louder in wake of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report.
While addressing his cabinet in Islamabad, Sharif termed the JIT report a pack of “allegations and speculations”, officials privy to the meeting told DawnNews.
Sharif announced that he will not resign as the prime minister on anyone’s call, as the cabinet members suggested that he fight the legal battle to vindicate himself in the Panama Papers case.
Pointing to the opposition parties who have been vehemently demanding his resignation following release of the JIT report, the prime minister said that the PML-N had bagged more votes than those of the opposition parties combined.
“The people of Pakistan have elected me and only they can remove me from this post,” he was quoted as saying.
During his briefing of the cabinet, Sharif claimed that all allegations levelled by the JIT in its report were in reference to his family’s business dealings, saying his family had “earned nothing after entering politics, but lost a lot.”
He said that projects worth billions of rupees are being executed in the country but no evidence of any corruption has been found in any of them.
The premier challenged his opponents to bring forth proof of “corruption of a single paisa” since 1985 against his family.
He alleged that the language employed in the JIT report reeked of “bias and mala fide intentions”, adding that his family had cooperated with the JIT in its probe to uphold the law and constitution.
The JIT, in its report, highlighted that the prime minister was “non-committal” about the two letters furnished before the Supreme Court by the former Qatari prime minister.
Similarly, the JIT members had termed retired Capt Muhammad Safdar, the PM’s son-in-law, “untruthful, dishonest, deceitful and shifty on many accounts displaying wanting conduct”.
The prime minister’s daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif had on Wednesday expressed the party’s resolve that Sharif will not step down.
“Insh’Allah he won’t resign. Should Nawaz Sharif resign because not a single allegation of misuse of public money has been proven against him?” she said.
The cabinet also approved proposals of a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU) with different countries including the signing of defence cooperation agreements with Indonesia, Turkey and Poland, Radio Pakistan reported.
The meeting also gave its go-ahead to the signing of MoUs with Russia for cooperation in education, finance and banking sectors.
The premier also constituted a four-member committee that will decide the name of the new Islamabad airport.