World

Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif Faces Calls To Resign

| by Diana Kruzman
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaking at the London Conference on Afghanistan in 2014Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaking at the London Conference on Afghanistan in 2014

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is facing calls to resign over documents that show he owns significant holdings overseas in tax-free accounts.

Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan has led the drive for Sharif’s resignation, claiming that he would hold a rally outside Sharif’s home in Lahore unless the Prime Minister quits his post, according to the Hindustan Times. Khan has pointed to the Panama Papers, which were leaked last week from a Panama-based law firm that managed the offshore accounts of numerous world leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as proof that Khan evaded paying taxes in his home country by holding funds overseas.

Khan addressed his party April 10 to call for greater transparency in the political process, claiming that an independent investigation of Sharif’s accounts is necessary. Otherwise, he and members of the Tahrik-e-Insaf opposition party that he leads will march on Sharif’s home in Raiwind.

“We will surround Raiwind with millions of people to press the premier to either constitute an independent judicial commission or step down,” Khan said, according to The Express Tribune.

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Khan also accused Sharif’s family of corruption and tax evasion, claiming that he can be personally linked to two companies listed in the document leak, which released more than 11 million papers from the firm Mossack Fonseca. The leak involved "140 politicians from more than 50 countries, connected to offshore companies in 21 different tax havens," according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which released the Panama Papers. So far, Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson has resigned over the revelations from the leak, which showed that he and his wife had owned an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands.

However, Sharif has denied any wrongdoing, and his information minister Pervaiz Rashid said that the Prime Minister will not quit over “baseless allegations,” according to the Hindustan Times. Some speculate that the motives for Khan’s accusations may be political, as Khan and his party staged a sit-in outside Parliament for several weeks in 2014. At that time, Khan also called for Sharif to resign over allegations of election fraud.

Sources: The Hindustan TimesThe International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Express Tribune / Photo credit: DFID - UK Department for International Development/Flickr

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