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Panama Papers: How can one file returns on salary he never got, Sharif asks

LiveMint logoLiveMint 05-08-2017 PTI

Islamabad: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday asked how could he have filed income tax returns on a salary he never received from his son’s company in Dubai, referring to the Supreme Court’s grounds for his disqualification in the Panama Papers case.

Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court last week in connection with the Panama Papers scandal. The 67-year-old veteran politician soon resigned from his position. During an informal chat with journalists in Islamabad, Sharif said he has a lot to say on the subject of his disqualification, however, he prefers to stay silent for now.

He added that he is starting to understand a lot (about what is going on), Geo News reported. He warned that he “won’t stay silent forever”. He did not give details but his party has been talking about the conspiracy to dislodge him. Sharif asked how could he have filed income tax returns on a salary he never received from his son’s company, the report said.

“Whatever happened with me is in front of you all. Had there been any evidence of corruption, kickbacks or misuse of public funds there would have been logic [in the disqualification],” he said. “I have not done anything which obstructed the country’s progress,” he said, adding, “I have acted upon the (Supreme Court) verdict but didn’t comment on it. I believe in the rule of law. I am not politically isolated,” said Sharif during the informal discussion.

Sharif returned to Islamabad from hill resort of Murree where he was staying since his ouster last week. Taking a jibe at former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Sharif said a dictator of the past said dictatorship is better than democracy. “I don’t know which world he is living in,” he said, adding that, “he has no courage to come here and speak in public”.

Sharif claimed that Musharraf wanted to meet him in 2007 when he (Sharif) was returning to the country, but he refused to see the dictator. He asked if the judiciary could ever hold a dictator accountable for his actions. He said no one has been held responsible for the murder of Baloch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, killed in a military action under Musharraf in 2005.

The PML-N chief, along with family members and aides, vacated his residence in Changla Gali earlier and was greeted by scores of supporters in Bharakahu on his way to Punjab House. The former premier’s convoy was surrounded by PML-N supporters, prompting Nawaz to get out of his car at one point and greet the crowd. Senior PML-N leaders and other politicians, including the prime minister and several cabinet members, are at the Punjab House for a consultative meeting chaired by Sharif.

Last Sunday, the former premier left the Prime Minister House and proceeded to Murree along with family members. Since then, the country has seen a new prime minister—PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi—assume office. Sharif has spent most of his time in Murree in hectic consultations over the formation of the new cabinet. The former premier chaired back-to-back meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, which finally led to the swearing-in of the new cabinet on Friday.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment in the Panama Papers case, disqualified Sharif over his failure to disclose un-withdrawn receivables constituting assets from a UAE-based company. The verdict stated that he was not “honest” and “truthful”, as per the country’s Constitution.

The PML-N has decided to file a review petition against the verdict. However, the party’s troubles are not over as it gears up for the by-election in Sharif’s Lahore constituency—NA-120—on 17 September. According to some reports, Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif is expected to contest the by-poll and assume office of prime minister.

However, there is a chance Abbasi could continue as the prime minister till the next general elections.

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