ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan People’s Party leadership has decided it will never strike a deal with the government over corruption, political sources said yesterday.

The top PPP leaders – Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his father Asif Ali Zardari – met in London yesterday to discuss the political heat back home.

The PPP leaders, the sources said, decided to take the issue of Panama leaks issue to its logical conclusion.

The meeting took place amid a standoff between the government and the opposition over the investigations into the Panama leaks where Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family members are accused of having involvement in corruption. Sharif himself is accused by the opposition of concealing assets and supporting his family to accumulate illegal assets.

While the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf has launched an anti-government campaign, the PPP – accused of being a friendly opposition for long  by the PTI - is threatening to follow suit. 

For a change, Imran Khan has recently defended the PPP accusing the government of targeting the party when it started pointing to its corruption.

PPP leaders said Bilawal and Zardari have decided to give tough time to the government to ensure investigations into the Panama leaks.

“The top two decided the reconciliation was only to protect democracy not to protect corruption,” said a senior PPP leader, privy to the meeting.

He said the PPP leaders hoped the government will not force them to take to streets and shake the rulers.

Last day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told a cabinet meeting that the government will not bow to the pressure from the opposition parties.

The premier is under immense pressure from the rivals since early April to quit amid the Panama leaks scandal involving his family.

Last day, the Election Commission of Pakistan issued notices to Prime Minister Sharif and other leaders of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) named by four political parties regarding the Panama leaks issue. PM Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Hamza Shehbaz and Mohammed Safdar have been directed to submit their response over the allegations on September 6.

The PPP and the PTI have also submitted references in the National Assembly seeking Sharif’s disqualification for allegedly concealing details of his assets in the nomination papers submitted for 2013 general elections – won by the PML-N. 

The PPP sources said Bilawal also exchanged views on references filed against Prime Minister Sharif in the ECP.

Reports said National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq was set to reject all six references filed against Prime Minister Sharif, PTI leader Imran Khan and PTI’s Jahangir Tareen to avoid new political drama.

Close aides of the Speaker said he had made up his mind to reject all the references on the basis of a legal advice and will communicate the reasons for the rejection to the parties that filed the references.

A total of six references have been filed with the Speaker – four for disqualification of the Prime Minister, one for disqualification of Imran Khan and another for disqualification of Jehangir Tareen under Articles 63(2) of the constitution.

The PML-N has filed two separate references against Imran Khan and Jehangir Tareen with the Speaker on August 5 and August 18 respectively and this was followed by four references against Prime Minister Sharif. PTI filed two separate references on August 15, and Awami Muslim League chief Shaikh Rashid Ahmed filed on August 16.

PML-N leaders - Maiza Hameed, Danial Aziz and Talal Chaudhry - filed a reference against PTI leader Jehangir Tareen for his disqualification from National Assembly. Tareen is accused of tax evasion, false declaration of assets and setting up of offshore companies.

Both the articles 62 and 63 lay down the qualifications and disqualifications for a member of parliament. As per the articles, only a righteous and pious person can be a member of a legislative assembly.

Yesterday, Imran Khan claimed Prime Minister Sharif’s overseas tours remained fruitless as Foreign Direct Investment in Pakistan plummeted to less than $ 1 billion last fiscal year.

In a message posted on Twitter, Khan said that PM’s tours cost Pakistan Rs 65 crore but nothing has been achieved.

Meanwhile, PML (Functional) Secretary General Imtiaz Sheikh joined the PPP at a meeting with Asif Ali Zardari in London. Bilawal and Faryal Talpur were also present.