Islamabad/Lahore - Opposition parties called for a thorough investigation after a massive leak of secret files from a Panamanian law firm revealed that children of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also “owned or had the right to authorise transactions for several offshore companies”.

The leaks revealed around 200 Pakistanis belonging to different walks of life had availed services of the law firm, the children of PM Nawaz, late PM Benazir Bhutto and former inter minister Rehman Malik being most prominent among them.

The loudest voice for investigating the sources of wealth of Sharif family was that of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, who said the country’s accountability watchdog (NAB), tax authorities and the election commission must take action.

Ali Raza Abidi, whose own party - Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) - faces allegations of money laundering, asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to investigate Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ‘hidden wealth’.

Jamaat-e-Islami chief Senator Sirajul Haq and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PAT) general secretary Khurram Nawaz Gandapur in separate statements also demanded an investigation of the affair.

Albeit no offshore company is directly owned by Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shehbaz Sharif, as many as eight companies have been identified that are linked either with Hussain Nawaz, his sister, and brother or Shehbaz’s relatives.

“Our stance vindicated again as Sharif’s wealth stashed abroad exposed,” tweeted Imran Khan, who has been for quite some time alleging the Sharif family of money laundering, tax evasion and stashing huge amounts abroad.

Later at a press conference at his Bani Gala residence, he went on to say that “Nawaz Sharif should explain how his children made all this money”, asking, “Have you paid tax on this income?”

“Probes have already been initiated in several countries – including Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and France – across the globe after their leaders and office bearers were implicated,” said Imran.

“Why not an investigation in Pakistan?” he questioned. “If NAB (National Accountability Bureau) wants to maintain its credibility, it should immediately begin a probe into Nawaz Sharif’s family.”

Imran said the data leak was a defining moment for Pakistan, adding that: “How can those who launder money from Pakistan to offshore accounts ask others to invest in Pakistan?”

He said Maryam Nawaz had given a statement two years ago saying her family did not have any asset abroad. “But now Hussain Nawaz comes on TV and accepts that Maryam owns two offshore companies.”

The PTI chief alleged “this money that is going abroad is corruption money from mega projects.”

“I have declared all my assets,” said the PTI chief. “Whatever I own is under my name and is inside Pakistan. Anyone can ask me for an explanation. Can we not ask them the source of their money? Who are they? Are they royals?”

Talking to The Nation MQM’s Ali Raza Abidi urged the ECP to scrutinise the assets of the extended Sharif family in the light of Panama leaks.

“Those who used to blame MQM for money laundering and links with RAW have now been exposed, as Panama papers mentioned names of Sharif family in it.”

MQM, which has been facing the challenge posed by Mustafa Kamal and Karachi operation, has further asked State Bank and Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) to take notice on this matter.

“How money was transferred to other countries? Is it mere a tax evasion?” Abidi posed questions for prime minister’s family, asking that why State Bank had allowed it if it was in its notice.

“MQM is not declaring the prime minister or his family criminals in view of Panama papers but demanding scrutiny of assets by the Election Commission,” he said.

It’s a very serious matter and “mere statements will not work”, he said, adding that MQM had faced blames for money laundering but no allegations could be proved against them.

Abidi also proudly informed that not even a single person belonging to MQM was named in the Panama leaks.

He said the operation against miscreants in Punjab would also expose many facts about the ‘facilitators’ of terrorists.

JI chief Senator Sirajul Haq, PTI central leader Chaudhry Sarwar and PAT general secretary Khurram Nawaz Gandapur in their separate statements termed Panama leaks an eye opener and said that the NAB must look into it.

JI chief said that the report included the names of several present and past rulers of the country. He said that corruption was the root cause of the all problems in the country. Politicians and rulers had ruthlessly plundered national resources and the public money and had transferred the looted wealth abroad unlawfully.

The JI chief said that Husain Nawaz and Hasan Nawaz were reportedly the owners of offshore companies and the NAB should investigate from where they got the money to set up these companies. He remarked that if the rulers built properties in foreign lands, who would invest in this country.

He called upon Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to give an explanation regarding the offshore companies of his family members.