WASHINGTON - The United States has reacted cautiously to demands by political parties in Pakistan for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign over the Panama Papers issue, saying the Pakistani people will have to decide whether he should step down.

“These are decisions that the Pakistani people have to make, and we’ve talked about this before,” US State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at the daily press briefing.

Kirby was responding to a question whether the United States supported the democratic-elected prime minister, or wanted him to leave office following corruption charges.

Asserting that the US takes corruption “very seriously”, Kirby said, “But in terms of this particular case, I mean, these are decisions that the Pakistani people have to make.”

“Separate and distinct from that – and I’m not talking about this specific case – the Secretary has also been very clear about the dangers of corruption around the world and what that does to fuel extremism and to increase economic instability and the corrosive effect that it can have on entire societies. So corruption is something we obviously take very seriously,” Kirby added.

Amid growing pressure for his resignation, the prime minister announced on April 5 the formation of a commission to investigate allegations made in the Panama Papers that linked his family to a series of offshore companies.

“I have decided to set up a high-level judicial commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court. This commission will decide after its investigation that what is reality and how much weight these allegations should be given,” Sharif said in an address to the nation on television.

The leaked papers, comprising 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, exposes how some of the world’s most powerful people have secreted their money offshore, and also implicated Sharif’s children - Maryam, Hasan and and Hussain.