ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he will step down if he is proven guilty by the commission devised to probe Panama Papers allegations. He was addressing the nation earlier today.

"I challenge everyone who accused me of tax fraud to present evidence. If any of charges of wrongdoing are proved, I will step down immediately," Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said.

The PM said he is writing a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to form of a commission to probe accusations against him and his family.

“I’m asking him the CJ to lead the judicial commission, which will investigate revelations made in the Panama Papers,” he said.

He also vowed to accept the commission’s recommendations.

Nawaz said that some elements are trying to destablise Pakistan in the garb of Panama Leaks .

"I took the nation into confidence immediately after the issue surfaced. I ordered the formation of a judicial commission under a retired supreme court judge’s supervision," he said.

“We have answered such allegations in the past and we will do it again, because we believe that as a democratic government and representatives of the people, it is our duty to answer these allegations.

"The commission has not yet been established, but people are already passing judgments.”

The PM said the incumbent government has always backed accountability, and has also taken steps to ensure that the taxpayers’ directory is public on FBR’s website.

"When I was told that the details of assets of public representatives were removed from the election commission’s website, I took notice of the issue and asked Ishaq Dar to re-issue these details," he added.

The premier said he is only answerable to the masses, and not to those politicians busy in scoring political points.

He also said the media should confirm facts before publicising them.

Reaction

Almost the entire leadership of political parties described Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s address to nation as extremely disappointing.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down over Panama leaks .

In a message on Twitter shortly after Prime Minister Sharif’s televised address, Bilawal said that PM should follow his own advice and resign.

Bilawal said Nawaz Sharif should put all the matters before parliament if he is public leader in real meaning adding that he did not prefer to address the media conference and he should keep his words and quit his office.

PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira, addressing the media on Friday, said the PPP and other political parties will not let the matter of Panama Papers be forgotten.

"The government's method of dealing with any major issue is to let it play out, and once enough time passes and other important issues take precedence, the matter is forgotten," said Kaira.

He added that all political parties are in agreement and united on the issue of Panama Papers, and the government's tactic of diluting important issues will not work.

Sindh Information Advisor Maula Bux Chandio stated on Friday that the nation was disappointed with Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif’s address in regards to the Panama Leaks .

Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf also rejected government’s terms of reference (ToR) regarding establishment of a judicial commission on allegations of offshore wealth.

PTI leader Naeem ul Haq said that Imran Khan was the target of Prime Minister’s Sharif speech. He said Imran Kahn will respond to the Prime Minister in foundation rally on Saturday,” he said.

He said that Prime Minister’s PM address to the nation was disappointing.

Naeem-ul-Haq said that as previous addresses PM is trying to beguile nation through political lament.

“PM has not mentioned the assets, which have been disclosed by Panama Papers. Army chief’s reaction against corruption has affected PM’s nerves, PTI leader added

He said that Nawaz Sharif is suffering from ‘Khan-phobia’. PM has not disclosed the powers of the probe commission. He asked that how and in how much time Chief Justice would able to investigate the Sharif family’s assets. 

Awami Musim League (AML) head Sheikh Rashid lamented that Prime Minister resorted to personal attacks against Imran Khan instead of responding to allegations against his family.

“Prime Minister is the biggest product of marital laws,” he said, urging the PML-N leader to review his approach.

He predicted that there would be at least one more speech of Prime Minister in the coming days.

Leader of the Opposition in Senate Aitzaz Ahsan described Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s address as “unsatisfactory”.

“We don’t accept the government’s ToR. This is not the commission opposition parties have been seeking to investigate Panama papers,” he said.

He said that opposition parties were not taken into confidence about the ToR of the judicial commission.

PPP leader said that Prime Minister Sharif was not forced into exile; he himself went to Saudi Arabia by entering into an agreement with Pervez Musharraf.

Ahsan threw a challenge to the prime minister on payment of taxes.

“Prime Minister Sharif owns sugar, garments and many other mills and factories and yet I have paid more tax than him,” he said.

Panama Leaks

The prime minister’s address comes a day after Army Chief General Raheel Sharif dismissed high-ranking military officers over corruption charges.

The Sharif family has officially denied that any of the corporations mentioned in Panama Papers were owned or run by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Their statement also highlighted the fact that the corporations owned by Hussain and Hassan Nawaz were legal entities and that the leaks had actually alleged no wrongdoing against the family, just named the companies and the owners.

The Panama Papers have named PM’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and his sons Hasan and Hussain, with records showing purchases of real estate in London through offshore companies administrated by the firm.

The Panama Papers are the result of an investigation by more than 100 media groups – one of the largest such probes in history – showed the hidden offshore dealings by around 140 political figures — including 12 current or former heads of state.

The large quantity of documentary records was obtained anonymously by the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung which shared it with media through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The documents showing around 214,000 offshore entities, came from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm with offices in more than 35 countries.

The Prime Minister in his address to the nation about two weeks ago, said he was compelled to respond to the politically-motivated allegations against the Sharif family in the media. He further said he would ask those leveling allegations against his family to go before a commission he was making and record their statements.

About his sons’ business ventures Nawaz said they were living in London and Saudi Arabia since 1994 and 2000 respectively.