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Lawyers associations to hold countrywide strike for PM resignation

19 July, 2017

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LAHORE: Looking to mount pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down from office in the light of findings in the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) report in the Panama Papers case, several of the country’s top lawyers’ associations, including the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), have announced a countrywide strike from Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference here on Tuesday, PBC vice chairman Ahsan Bhoon urged the Supreme Court to take the Panama Papers case to its logical end and disqualify the prime minister and other public office-holders declared guilty of corruption in the JIT report. Mr Bhoon was joined by office-bearers of the Punjab Bar Council (PbBC).

He also called for the resignation of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and MNA retired Capt Mohammad Safdar. The JIT report had proved that the prime minster and his family members had been involved in corruption, he said.

The PBC leader demanded that the apex court refer the case to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for a reference against the Sharif family as recommended by the JIT. He claimed that the evidence collected by the JIT was enough to disqualify the prime minister.

Mr Bhoon also demanded action against government ministers who had used derogatory and offensive language against members of the JIT and the Supreme Court. He announced that the entire legal fraternity would observe a countrywide strike on Wednesday to demand the prime minister’s resignation. He added that the PBC would soon host a multi-party conference on the Panama Papers case.

On behalf of the lawyers’ National Action Committee, Supreme Court Bar Association secretary Aftab Ahmad Bajwa also announced a countrywide strike on Wednesday. He said the SCBA was of the view that the JIT report had exposed the true face of the ruling Sharif family. He said Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had also been exposed as tools to streamline corruption and launder money.

Mr Bajwa said the prime minister did not have any moral grounds to remain in office as two judges on the Supreme Court bench had already declared that he was no longer “Sadiq” and “Amin”.

He said the SCBA had expressed grave concern over the language used against members of the JIT by leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. He asked the Supreme Court to take notice of those involved in the vilification campaign.

Earlier at a meeting, the National Action Committee had requested the Supreme Court to hold daily hearings of the Panama Papers case and suspend Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a member of the National Assembly till its final decision. It also demanded that the court place all members of the Sharif family found guilty in the JIT report on the exit control list (ECL).

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