ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party yesterday asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not to equate himself to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who never indulged in corruption and was executed under a ‘conspiracy.’

Addressing a joint news conference here, Senator Sherry Rehman, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan and Senator Farhatullah Babar said the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) was not ready to accept the truth.

“They are claiming of a conspiracy against the government. They should tell the nation who is behind this conspiracy. Nawaz Sharif is not ready to read the writing on the wall. They are just trying to become Bhuttos,” Senator Sherry Rehman said.

The PPP, she said, was convinced that the PM had to quit to save the system. “We are not engaged in any backdoor contacts with the government. The PM has no legal or moral ground to stay in power,” she said.

The PML-N had earlier rejected the JIT report accusing Prime Minister Sharif of accumulating assets beyond his known sources of income. The JIT submitted its report this week to the Supreme Court finding a ‘significant disparity’ in the income and lifestyle of the ruling Sharif family. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the case again on July 17. The JIT recommendations are however, not legally binding.

The controversy erupted last year as 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca were published documenting the offshore dealings of many of the world’s powerful and wealthy individuals. PM Sharif’s three children - Maryam Nawaz, Hasan Nawaz and Hussein Nawaz named in the papers.

In April the Supreme Court ruled there was no sufficient evidence to oust PM Sharif but directed to form a JIT for further probe.

Sherry Rehman said the ministers should read the JIT report instead of beating about the bush. “The report clearly says that Maryam Nawaz is the owner of Nelson and Nescol companies. The stock exchange is falling and the world is asking questions. Qatari prince and other claims proved fake. They could not provide any money trail,” she said.  The Senator said Nawaz Sharif should not damage the system further and quit the top post.

Speaking on the occasion, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said Nawaz Sharif was unfairly equating himself with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

He claimed that the military and the judiciary conspired against Bhutto. “The current rulers are not naming anybody who is conspiring against them. Bhutto never had any corruption case against him,” he reminded.

Ahsan said the PPP was in contact with the opposition parties and had called a meeting on July 17 of the Senate members from different parties to discuss the issue.

He said that from 1990 to 1993, Nawaz Sharif paid only Rs 477 as income tax. “These details were sent to the JIT. We did not expect the JIT to give a clear finding but they came out with a courageous report,” he added.

Ahsan, the opposition leader in the Senate, said the Supreme Court will seek the views of the parties in the case on July 17 and the government can challenge the JIT findings if they fancy any chance.

He said that Nawaz Sharif had sent one son to Saudi Arabia to receive kickbacks while the other son was in London to invest the money. “The sons also sent gifts worth billions of rupees to the father, which is astonishing,” he added.

The PPP leader said that the Panama Leaks was not a conspiracy against the Sharif family as even Indian actors Amitabh Bachan and Aishwarya Rai were named in the leaks.

He questioned how the Nandipur power project cost went up to Rs 100 billion from Rs 23 billion. “This was done on purpose,” he alleged.

Ahsan said that the government had become controversial and the PM must resign to avert a crisis.

Senator Farhatullah Babar recalled a statement of President Mamnoon Hussain who had said the decision on Panama leaks was imminent. “Now the decision has come. The government has been exposed and its better for the PM to resign,” he maintained.

He said if Sharif delayed the decision to quit, it could give birth to a political crisis. “Nawaz Sharif should quit to expose the conspiracy against him. We also want to see who is conspiring against him,” he remarked.

The PPP leaders – including Sherry Rehman, Aitzaz Ahsan, Farhatullah Babar, Naveed Qamar, Faisal karim Kundi, Akhunzada Chattan and Rubina Khalid - earlier held a meeting with party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and discussed the Panama Leaks issue and the JIT report.

Meanwhile yesterday, Bilawal said that party was a force in the past and will always be a force of people of Pakistan. Addressing a delegation of office bearers of the PPP Islamabad district and Islamabad city here, he said that party workers were the strength of Benazir Bhutto and they were his strength as well.

“The party won by-elections in Karachi and Gilgit-Baltistan which proves that no one can compete party in elections,” he said.

Bilawal said that PPP had strong candidates in every constituency throughout Pakistan and the people who had left the party will soon be forgotten. “These anti-people individuals never served the people of Pakistan and they are in politics to serve their own interests,” he said.