London : Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s presence in London, shortly after the Panama Papers leak, sparked speculation on Saturday about his political future.
Sharif is visiting London at a time two other major Pakistani political leaders – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan — are there for different reasons. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Khan took the same flight as Imran Khan.
Sharif said the trip was for “medical treatment”, but he flew via Moscow instead of Rome. The stopover is under the scanner as Russian President Vladimir Putin is also named in Panama papers scam.
Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is now running the government in Sharif’s absence.
Sharif has been facing demands for resignation ever since Panama Papers leak revealed that his children ran shell companies through which they owned expensive property in London. They have been accused of siphoning off money to set up these companies when their father was prime minister in the early nineties. So far, PTI has been threatening street protests if Sharif does not resign, while the response from PPP. has been mixed. PPP leader Senator Aitzaz Ahsan even claimed the PM was in London to meet Zardari and seek his support, though this was promptly denied by Sharif’s spokesperson.
Some political analysts were however of the opinion that opposition parties would not stretch the crisis to such an extent that the military would step in.