ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party yesterday said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should only be punished if found guilty in the Panama leaks scandal.

This came hours after PPP Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced that no meeting will be held between his father Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in London. Bilawal took to twitter and ruled out all the rumours and speculations regarding the meeting.

Earlier, some senior PPP members had advised Zardari against meeting the premier as it could dent the party’s image.

PM Sharif’s visit to Britain this week for a pending medical check-up set political circles abuzz after he landed in Panama Papers controversy. At a time when Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Chief Imran Khan threatened to march toward Nawaz Sharif’s residence in Raiwind, leaders of the opposition had been casting doubts on the reason for the Prime Minister’s sudden visit to London. Zardari’s movement in London is also being closely monitored by the media. There were speculations PM Sharif had gone to London to meet Zardari to form a strategy with him to avoid possible threat from the PTI.

Addressing a news conference here along with Faisal Karim Kundi, PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said the party was against jumping into conclusions. “If someone is guilty he must be punished but seeking resignation before investigation is a bit harsh,” he said.

He added the PPP had opposed the PTI’s last sit-in for the same inflexible position. “We should let the system run and seek improvements. We are of the opinion that all who are convicted must be punished,” Kaira explained.

The PPP leader said his party agreed with the PTI after the 2013 polls that rigging took place but, “we were against derailing the system.”

To a question if there were still chances of a contact or a meeting between Zardari and Sharif, he said: “There will be no political meeting but we hope his illness does not aggravate. There is nothing wrong in contacting someone to enquire after his health amid ailment.”

Despite Bilawal’s ‘no’ to the meeting, there were reports Zardari had shifted to a hotel close to Sharif’s flat in London. There were speculations that in garb of enquiring after his health, the PPP leader might provide the PM with an opportunity for the much needed exchange of views on Panama Papers.

Sharif has been under pressure since the Panama Papers leaks linked his family to a series of offshore companies. Earlier this month he announced the formation of a commission to investigate the allegations in the documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca that exposed how some of the world’s most powerful secrete their assets offshore.

Three of Sharif’s four children are named in the Panama Papers - daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who has been tipped to be his political successor, and sons Hasan Nawaz Sharif and Hussain Nawaz Sharif. The records showed they owned London real estate through offshore companies administered by Mossack Fonseca. The premier, who is currently in London, has insisted his family has done “nothing wrong.”

Kaira said the PPP was in contact with the other opposition parties including the PTI to devise a joint strategy. “There is a consensus that the corrupt must not be spared,” he added.

Meanwhile, Bilawal hinted at wholesale changes in the party as he sought public opinion about the party’s performance.

The young PPP leader had dissolved party organisations in the four provinces this week replacing them with interim committees to recommend changes within three months.

In an open letter to the PPP workers, sympathisers, media and critics, Bilawal asked the question whether the party had achieved its goals in the recent years – a clear reference to the poor performance of the party in the recent years.

The reshuffle is long awaited and Bilawal – with a hope to bring the youth to the forefront - has been holding meetings with his party leaders for months to finalise a new team. Although the reshuffle is meant for the whole country, the main focus is on Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Bilawal, in Islamabad these days, was declared the party’s candidate for the Prime Minister slot in the 2018 polls by his father Asif Ali Zardari.

The PPP has been voted into power on five separate occasions 1970, 1977, 1988, 1993 and 2008. Better performance in Punjab has always been the key to gaining majority in the National Assembly.

Both Bilawal and Zardari agree on the reorganisation but there is a difference of opinion on how to blend the youth and the experience for better results. Bilawal believes youth should be in the lead role while Zardari does not want to give up his faith in the older leaders.

Kaira said Bilawal was following Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to let the public make a decision to revive its popularity. “The party organisations have been dissolved to bring changes. We are seeking to engage people in the decision-making. The aim is to improve the standing of the party and revive its glory,” he added.

Asked if Bilawal was disappointed with the present situation, Kaira said: “The organisations have been dissolved obviously for a change.”

In his letter, Bilawal said: “I write to you in order to seek your input and advice on how best to take the Pakistan People’s Party forward as Pakistan’s principal progressive political force in one of the most challenging times in the country’s history.”

He said the PPP’s role in making Pakistan a more democratic and open society was well known. “The PPP has a historic and effective role in advancing a progressive discourse which has been both consistent and clear. The PPP was established in 1967 to represent, articulate and respond to the aspirations of the socially excluded and economically exploited segments of society, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and latter on Benazir Bhutto espoused the principles and values of equity, justice and democracy. As the PPP reaches its Golden jubilee next year, I feel it is crucial to engage in a process of broad Consultation on key questions that divide society today,” he wrote.

“For the moment, and in the first instance, I am seeking your guidance about the role and affairs of my party, the PPP. On later occasions I hope I can take the liberty of seeking your views on other broader and perhaps more current issues concerning the state of the nation and our future as a people,” he said.

The questionnaire attached to the letter asked if the PPP had achieved its goals, how the party could retain its fundamental values while responding to emerging challenges, what were the key challenges the country faced, how the party’s organisational structure could be improved at different levels, how could the internal and external communication of party be made more effective and what should be the economic, social and political priorities of the party. “Please indicate three priorities for the party to immediately focus on and three or more for long-term policy making,” it said.