ISLAMABAD - In a fresh round of allegations and counter-allegations in the wake of Panama leaks, the government and the main opposition party – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – yesterday traded barbs over the disclosure that PTI Chairman Imran Khan also owned an offshore company.

While the government was in a fix on Friday following the refusal of Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwer Zaheer Jamali to form a ‘toothless’ commission to probe Panama Papers, it got a sigh of relief with the admittance of PTI chief that he once also owned an offshore company in UK. Using this to their advantage, the government side and launched a fresh attack against the main opposition party.

Speaking to reporters at London’s Heathrow Airport, Imran Khan admitted he had formed an offshore company to buy a flat in London in 1983 to evade the taxes in UK. His admission came a day after the information secretary of his party denied that Imran ever owned an offshore company.

The government’s chief spokesman, Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed was the first who launched the attack saying Imran Khan was the ‘pioneer of offshore companies in Pakistan’. He also criticised PTI for having the largest number of lawmakers owning offshore companies as revealed by Panama leaks.

Addressing a press conference at the Press Information Department (PID), he reminded Khan that he had been targeting others for having offshore companies and denying his own but ‘the latest reports confirmed he owned a company way back in 1983’.

“Apart from PTI chairman, the names of five other close associates of Khan including Aleem Khan, Jehangir Tareen, his sister, a PTI Senator and a cabinet member of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have surfaced as owners of offshore companies,” he said, alleging that PTI legislators were at top of the list of ownership of offshore companies as compared with members of other political parties of the country.

“Neither Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif nor any cabinet member or PML-N member of Parliament has any offshore company,” the minister claimed. Only one member of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was linked with an offshore company, he added.

Pervaiz questioned why Imran did not disclose his offshore company or sources of income while declaring his assets. He said PTI chief had been claiming that offshore companies were formed to evade taxes or for laundering money. The fact that he owned an offshore company meant he was involved in tax evasion and money laundering. He said Imran Khan had lost moral justification to do politics and also went on to say that PTI chief was the No.1 accused in the case of off shore companies.

In response to the allegations of Pervaiz Rasheed, PTI Information Secretary Naeemul Haq rejected all the allegations of government saying the information minister was giving wrong statements. Addressing an emergency press conference, he said Imran Khan owned company only in the past that had no existence at the moment.

“The information minister has forgotten that four companies of Prime Minister’s children have surfaced in Panama leaks.” He alleged that the name of PM and his children were on the top of Panama Papers.

He said that sources of income used in Imran Khan’s company were known while the sources of income of PM’s family were unknown. In a tit for tat manner, he declared PM as the No. 1 accused in the case of offshore companies. He questioned how much tax Nawaz Sharif had paid since 1990 and said that PTI soon would declare tax details of their party chief.