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Federal cabinet gave vote of confidence to Nawaz Sharif

14 July, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Thursday gave a fresh ‘vote of confidence’ to the embattled but still defiant prime minister, endorsing his decision to not step down despite mounting pressure by political opponents following a joint investigation team (JIT) report found Sharif family guilty of living beyond means, concealment of facts and being beneficial owners of multiple offshore companies and recommended filing of reference against it in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Rejecting all demands by a ‘group of conspirators’, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif categorically announced during the cabinet meeting that he would not resign from his office. “Should I resign on the demand of anti-democracy forces? Why should I resign …on what basis?” he asked his cabinet colleagues, who in return thumped desks to express solidarity with him and endorse his decision to stay put. They suggested that the prime minister must fight the legal battle to vindicate himself in the Panama Papers case.

Terming the JIT report ‘a pack of mere assumptions and allegations’, the prime minister told his cabinet colleagues that the report had not given even a hint of any corruption or financial misappropriation against him. “JIT did not even question me about any such corruption during my session with them,” he revealed. “I have no burden on my conscience, by the grace of God,” he said, adding that his family had gained nothing from the politics, but had lost a lot.

“Even the language employed in the JIT report depicts mala fide. Based on mere accusations and conjecture, the report is reflective of animosity and malice,” he said, adding that nobody would be allowed to derail the journey of development and growth in the country. “I was brought into power by people, and only they people the mandate to remove me,” he told his aides.

In an apparent reference to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, the prime minister said those demanding resignation should know that the PML-N had bagged more votes than those of all the opposition parties combined. “The time is not far when all the secrets [against PTI’s government in KP] would be busted,” he said. Pakistan has paid a heavy price for such antics in the past and now this trend should end, he added.

Discussing details of the inquiry report with cabinet members, the prime minister reiterated that their businesses started prior to the entry of any of his family members into politics. “Since 1985 till date, there hasn’t been misappropriation of even a single penny,” he maintained, and challenged his opponents to bring forth proof of corruption of even a single paisa since 1985 against his family.

The prime minister said his party’s government was in the process of setting up mega projects worth billions of rupees. “We have not committed any corruption in any of the projects … bring to the fore if you have any evidence against me or Shahbaz,” he said.

The prime minister said the government had his fingers on the pulse of the masses. He said the scientific polls show that the vast majority of the people of Pakistan was still with him. “Those who have been trying to create disruption in the country in the name of rigging, corruption, Panama or any other pretext, will remain unsuccessful.”

The meeting was the first formal sitting of the prime minister with his close aides after the six-member panel submitted the damning report to the apex court in the Panama Papers case. Earlier, he had been informally consulting his legal wizards as well as political aides on different aspects of the JIT report

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