ISLAMABAD - Former President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the Pakistan People’s Party leaders to avoid frontal attacks on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and go slow on the Panama leaks-hit government, The Nation learnt yesterday.

PM Sharif went abroad last week for medical check-up in London where Zardari reportedly ‘enquired’ after him. The PPP had earlier denied any chance of a meeting between the two leaders amid rumours that Sharif had flown to the United Kingdom only to see the PPP chief.

The Panama leaks are a set of 11.5 million leaked confidential documents containing information about more than 214,000 offshore companies listed by the Panamanian corporate service provider, Mossack Fonseca, including the identities of company shareholders and directors. The documents illustrate how wealthy individuals, including public officials, can hide assets from public scrutiny.

The Mossack Fonseca documents do not name either Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif or Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. They do, however, link in-laws of Shahbaz Sharif and children of Nawaz Sharif to offshore companies.

A senior PPP leader, close to Zardari, told The Nation the former president was not inclined to multiply troubles for Sharif at this stage.

“Zardari has asked the PPP to go slow and give the government time to complete its term. He has also instructed against frontal attacks on PM Nawaz Sharif,” he added.

He said, as a policy also, the PPP did not seek the PM’s resignation whereas Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf is demanding his ouster.

“Zardari does not want to support corruption, but he definitely wants to protect the system. Any instability could be dangerous for the democratic process. Zardari wants serious investigations,” the PPP leader explained.

Another PPP leader said Bilawal was also against maligning political opponents, but wanted to give a tough time to the government. “Bilawal wants to keep the pressure for serious investigations into the Panama leaks, but he too is against personal attacks and mud-slinging,” he said.

PTI chief Imran Khan is much harsher than PPP, calling for an investigation into Sharif family’s finances and asking how public figures who send their own money overseas could promote investment in Pakistan.

The government on April 15 announced an investigation against all Pakistanis named in the documents by a judicial commission. Opposition parties said a judge, not a retired judge, should investigate the matter.

Yesterday, the PPP and the PTI dismissed the inquiry commission under Justice (r) Sarmad Jalal Osmany to probe the Panama leaks. Senior leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N earlier finalised Justice Osmany’s name for the commission.

PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira warned of staging protests if the government formed a commission according to its own will. He said the government was trying to buy time by floating different names. “Unfortunately, the issue will aggravate for the government which needs to satisfy the opposition and the people,” Kaira said.

PTI’s Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Justice Osmany should not have accepted the offer. “It seems the government is not taking it seriously. We want them to write to the Supreme Court for investigations,” he contended.

He said the PTI wanted a commission that could dig out the truth behind the Panama leaks. “There can also be a parliamentary committee to take up the matter,” he added.

Separately, Asif Ali Zardari’s close aide Dr Asim Hussain – an alleged terror facilitator – claimed Prime Minister Sharif will not return home.

Dr Hussain, a former minister, said yesterday Prime Minister Sharif went to London to ‘take care of’ Panama leaks issue.