ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said that the “conspirators” will not be able to oust him, amid the rising demands for his resignation.

Chairing the federal cabinet meeting, the prime minister said that those demanding his resignation were rejected by the people in the elections.

“I will not resign on the demand of a group of conspirators,” he said, as the ministers thumped desks to show support.

A cabinet member, who attended the meeting, told The Nation that the premier was confident to safely cope with the Panama Papers case and retain the top post.

“Not a single minister is in favour of the resignation. He sought our opinion and we all supported his decision to stay. The PM’s message to the conspirators is loud and clear that the elections will only be held in 2018, and he will be the PM until he completes the five-year term,” the minister said.

He said that the prime minister asked the ministers to contact the opposition parties to defuse the tension.

“He sees no threat to his government but still wants to look after the opposition too. He has asked us to remain in contact with them and assured that just demands will always be accepted,” the cabinet member said.

An official statement said the cabinet reposed full confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Sharif and endorsed his firm decision not to step down.

Addressing the meeting, the prime minister said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) bagged more votes in general elections than the aggregate of those demanding his resignation.

This week, the joint investigation team probing the Panama Papers case submitted its report to the Supreme Court, finding “glaring disparities” between the Sharif family’s known sources of income and their actual wealth.

Hours after the submission of the JIT report, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – backed by the smaller opposition parties – demanded PM’s resignation.

The ruling PML-N however, has been firm that Prime Minister Sharif would neither quit nor dissolve the National Assembly.

During the cabinet meeting, Nawaz Sharif reaffirmed that the journey of progress would not be allowed to derail as the country had already paid a huge price due to political crises in the past.

The prime minister said that projects worth billions of rupees were being executed but no evidence of any corruption had been found.

PM Sharif said that his family members were running the family business since 1937. They had gained nothing from politics rather they had lost a lot because of it, he added.

Nawaz Shairf said that the language used in the JIT report had exposed dishonesty of the investigation team.

He asked his colleagues: “Should I resign on the demand of anti-democracy forces? Why should I resign, [and] on what basis? I have no burden on my conscience.”

The answer was a loud “no” from the ministers.

The decisions on who will be in power, he said, were taken in heavens, “while people are trying to take the decisions on earth.”

The prime minister said the government had its fingers on the pulse of the masses and scientific polls showed that the vast majority of the people of Pakistan were still with him.

He said that those who have been trying to create disruption in the country on such pretexts as rigging, corruption and Panama Papers would fail.

Other agenda items

The meeting also discussed overall security and economic situation in the country, and approved terms and conditions for the appointment of members for gas and oil of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), said an official statement.

A meeting of the PML-N parliamentary party will be held on July 14 (today) to review the JIT report.

The cabinet approved proposals of a number of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) for cooperation with various countries.

The cabinet approved accords for starting of negotiations on air services with other countries including Azerbaijan, Serbia, Vietnam and Brazil. The meeting gave ex-post facto approval to start negotiations and approval for signing of MoU between the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and the respective departments of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan.

The cabinet gave a nod to Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The meeting also approved MoU signing on cooperation in disaster management with Kazakhstan through National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC).

Approval was given to cooperation in defence and technical training with the countries including Indonesia, Turkey, Thailand and Poland.

In the education sector, the cabinet approved signing of agreement on cooperation in higher education and professional training with Turkey.

The meeting ratified inter-governmental agreement on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Institute, Economic Affairs and an MoU with Cuba in the field of tourism and economic affairs.

Ex-post facto approval was given to an agreement between Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow and the National University of Modern Language, Islamabad.

Approval was given to ratification of MoU between Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) of Pakistan and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Turkmenistan Concerning Cooperation in exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering and terrorist financing.

The meeting also approved signing of MoU between State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBRF) on bilateral cooperation.

The cabinet approved to commence negotiations on MoUs on bilateral consultations with Foreign Affairs Ministries of other countries including South Africa, Nigeria, Niger, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Senegal, Kenya and Romania.

In the agriculture sector, the meeting approved cooperation in the field of agriculture and food security with Uzbekistan and Uganda.

The meeting also approved to start negotiations with Kuwait for signing an MoU for petroleum exploration in Pakistan.

The cabinet approved to amend the existing convention for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion of taxes on income with several countries including Turkmenistan, Serbia, the United Kingdom, Mauritius, Tajikistan, Thailand, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Kuwait, Yemen, Japan, Bangladesh, Oman, Ukraine, Iran, Vietnam and Sudan.

The meeting gave ex-post facto approval to start negotiations and approval for signing of MoU to develop relations in tourism between Pakistan and Maldives.

Approval was also given to start negotiations on draft MoU for opening of Defence Credit Line of $10 million for Maldives.

Another approval was given for signing of MoU by Civil Service Commission of Maldives with National School of Public Policy, Pakistan.

The cabinet approved commencement of negotiation of MoU between the Foreign Services Academy (FSA) of Pakistan and the Foreign Service Institute (FOSIM) of Maldives.

Plotters won’t see my back, PM tells cabinet

Shafqat Ali