LAHORE - The basic membership of the PTI leaders whose names have surfaced in the Panama leaks must be suspended till proven innocent to save the party from serious credibility issues, said the party leaders while talking to The Nation yesterday.

Half a dozen old and new guards of PTI were almost of the same opinion over the issue of dealing with the leaders named in the Panama leaks.

Only one of the six leaders permitted The Nation to give his quote on record while others sought anonymity, fearing a fate similar to Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed whose basic membership was suspended by Imran Khan for criticising the party in public and the media.

“It is our democratic right to demand resignation from the prime minister because of his children’s names in the Panama Papers. At the same time, it is also our responsibility to demand suspension of basic membership of those PTI men whose names have surfaced in the infamous leaks,” said the leaders of Imran Khan’s party.

The PTI chairman must distance himself from his inner-circle members named in the Panama Papers to handle the serious issue of credibility facing the party currently, they added.

Hamid Khan, the only follower of Khan who gave his input on the record, said, “The party high command must take immediate steps to deal with the issue. The leaders named in the Panama Papers must disassociate themselves from the party voluntarily till proven innocent.”

“The Panama Papers’ leaders should not force the party chairman to take the step of suspending them, so they should quit voluntarily. In the other case, the leadership must deal with the Panama leaks accused with iron hands for the sake of the party’s credibility,” Hamid Khan said.

“As far as Zulfikar Bokhari is concerned, he is a member of the party chairman’s inner circle. Khan is being advised to distance himself from the persons named in the infamous papers. I am sure the chairman would take all steps to maintain the credibility of the party,” added the veteran PTI leader.

The leaders who requested not to be named said, “What’s harm in suspending membership of the leaders accused in the Panama Papers for holding offshore accounts till proven innocent?. Such step will only improve the image the party against its arch rival, PML-N, which will not take any such step.”

“The party cannot afford credibility issues for getting some funds to run its affairs. The credibility of the party and that of the chairman should be our foremost priority. It was the credibility of Imran Khan, which helped him establish a state-of-the art trust for cancer patients,” they added.

“Dent to Khan’s credibility means demoralising the base of the party and we hope the party chairman would acknowledge this vital fact. The party can face new groups on the pattern of Justice (r) Wajihuddin if the party chairman ignores the serious credibility indicators,” warned the PTI leaders.