ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has summoned a meeting of the federal cabinet today amid rising political temperatures in the country.

An official yesterday said the prime minister would take up the Panama leaks issue with his cabinet and a strategy to cope with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf protest on November 2.

“The strategy to counter the PTI protest and minimise its impact will be discussed at the cabinet meeting,” the official said on anonymity. He said the prime minister was optimistic to keep the federal capital open despite the PTI’s lockdown threat.

On the other hand, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the Draft Companies Bill, 2016, will be presented before the cabinet for approval. He said the draft had been finalised after extensive consultations with the stakeholders.

Dar said the cabinet meeting was also likely to grant approval for the ratification of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Convention. But sources said the strategy to counter the PTI’s protest will top the cabinet agenda.

PTI chief Imran Khan has been demanding PM Sharif to either quit or offer himself for accountability over the scandal. Until now, there has been no indication from the government to accept any of the two demands.

There were unconfirmed reports the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz could consider an in-house change to defuse the PTI’s protest but the PML-N sources said this option was never discussed. The sources said Nawaz and his cabinet were also likely to discuss the Dawn leaked report.

Also yesterday, the PM met his political and legal aides and discussed with them the Panama issue.

According to sources, the government’s legal team would not challenge the maintainability of the petitions seeking probe into the Panama leaks but it would seek time for filing the reply.

The sources said the ruling party may seek apex court’s intervention in restraining the protesters from taking law in their hands.

They said that the PM directed Interior Minister Ch Nisar to prefer going for blocking KP CM Pervez Khatak-led caravan through containers to a direct clash with them.

The lawmen should not allow the entry of the protesters to the capital and the writ of government must be established, it was also decided in the meeting.

The sources claimed that Imran Khan would be stayed confined to his Bani Gala residence while the arrests of the top PTI leaders should be the last resort.

At the same time, the option of negotiations will be open, the sources said, adding that though Finance Minister Ishaq Dar invited the opposition to negotiation, the government will not bow to pressure over a family or person specific framework.

It was also learnt that the government may come up with a formal offer to the opposition to ease political tension in today’s federal cabinet.

Terence J Sigamony adds: A five-member larger bench of Supreme Court will resume the hearing of Panama Papers case today. Chief Justice Anawar Zaheer Jamali will head the bench while Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Amir Hani Muslim, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz Ahsan are its members.

The petitions have been filed by Imran Khan, JI chief Sirajul Haq, Pakistan Awami Muslim League Chairman Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Tariq Asad and Barrister Zafarullah. A three-member bench on October 20 had dismissed Zafarullah’s petition to restrain PTI from lockdown of the federal capital.

Former attorney general Salman Aslam Butt submitted power of attorney on behalf of the PM, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Maryam Nawaz, and Safdar.

Notices have also been issued to PM Nawaz, NAB through its chairman, Federation through Secretary Law, Federal Interior Secretary, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) through its Chairman, Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz, Muhammad Safdar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The respondents have been directed to bring their original CNICs. The entry in the Court Room No 1, the venue for case hearing, will be regulated through special security passes.