ISLAMABAD - Amid the Panama leaks scandal, there were rumours Pakistan People’s Party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan might meet or contact each other to test Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s nerves, The Nation learnt yesterday.

The leaked papers, comprising 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, implicated Sharif’s sons and daughter.

Prime Minister Sharif promised to get the issue investigated but the opposition parties vowed to force the government for a ‘fair’ probe led by the Chief Justice or a serving judge of the Supreme Court.

As Panama leaks shook political leaders and famous personalities, financial institutions of the world also decided to sit together to discuss the issue.

The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development were set to introduce new tax laws.

Prime Minister Sharif, started consulting his aides after arrival from London and chaired a meeting yesterday to finalise a strategy to come out of the sticky situation.

A senior PPP leader said the top leaders of the opposition parties might meet to take the issue further. “There is a possibility of a contact or a meeting between Bilawal and Imran Khan. Nothing is final yet but we can’t rule it out,” he said.

The PPP leader said as an alternative, there could be a contact between Asif Ali Zardari and Imran Khan. “This could happen if the two parties wish to give more credibility to the joint efforts for fair investigations into the Panama leaks ,” he maintained.

PTI sources said there was no proposal yet for a top-level meeting between the two main opposition parties but there were no voices against such an interaction.

“The opposition parties need to become one unit to give tough time to the government. There is a consensus to save the system and punish the corrupt,” a senior PTI leader said.

PPP Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira told The Nation that at this point there was no official proposal for a meeting but “politicians can meet anytime.”

He said the possibility of such meetings cannot be ruled out. “This won’t be a new thing if they meet. Party leaders do meet,” he added. Kaira said his party’s stance on Panama leaks was clear that the issue must be thoroughly investigated and those found guilty must be punished.

Faisal Karim Kundi, another key leader of the PPP, said for the time being the party was happy with the meetings of its committee members with the other parties.

“The committee led by Khurshid Shah has held meetings with opposition parties’ leaders and have also contacted the government. As of today, Bilawal’s meeting with Imran Khan is not on the table but there is no harm in talks and meetings,” he remarked.

Kundi said if the PTI contacted the PPP for a top-level meeting, the party will definitely consider it.

Earlier yesterday, members of the PPP Parliamentary Committee - set up last week to hold consultations with all political parties on the issue of setting up a Parliamentary Commission into the Panama Leaks - called on Bilawal here to apprise him of the progress in the consultative process.

Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah, leader of the opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan, Syed Naveed Qamar Senator Saeed Ghani and Ijaz Jakhrani. Bilawal’s Political Secretary Jameel Soomro and spokesperson Farhatullah Babar were also present in the meeting.

Briefing the PPP chairman, Khurshid Shah said that discussions were held by the committee members with leaders of the Awami National Party, the PTI, the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Qaumi Watan Party of Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao.

He said talks were also held with the government as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was contacted over telephone on the subject.

“Further discussions on the subject will continue with other parties as well,” he added.

Farhatullah Babar said the Chairman emphasized the need for carrying out probe through a parliamentary forum with the consent of all political parties.

“A probe by a nominee of the Prime Minister and decision about the terms of reference of the probe forum will not be credible because the Prime Minister’s family has been named in the report,” he said.

Babar said the PPP further proposed that the terms of reference should also be determined by the parliament after discussion and debate among all political parties.

Also yesterday, PTI chief Imran Khan said only a commission led by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to probe the Panama Leaks will be accepted.

The PPP, however, provided an alternative, saying if a commission cannot be formed then a parliamentary committee be constituted to probe the matter.

Bilawal for Speeding Up Party Reorganisation

Pakistan People’s Party Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari yesterday asked his party leaders to speed up efforts for the party’s re-organisation.

Speaking to delegations of the PPP here, he issued instructions to start consultations with party workers and present him with all the names which they suggest for different party offices.

PPP Sindh chapter coordination committee called on the party chief here. Members of coordination committee include Sindh Nisar Ahmed Khoro, Syed Murad Ali Shah, Moula Bakhsh Chandio, Dr Nafisa Shah and Rashid Rabbani. Faryal Talpur and Jamil Soomro were also present in this meeting, said a party statement.

Separately, a delegation of senior party leaders from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa called on Bilawal. They included Karamat Khan, Senator Khanzada Khan, Senator Rubina Khalid, former provincial ministers Rahimdad Khan, Humayun Khan and Zahir Shah, former Mayor Peshawar Azam Afridi, Noor Alam Afridi, Nighat Aurakzai, former Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, Shazi Khan, Advocate Akbar Momand, Malik Tamash Khan and Senator Farhatullah Babar. PPP Information secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira and political secretary Jamil Soomro were also present in the meeting.

The delegation briefed the PPP chief on the political situation in the province and the latest situation with regard to the forthcoming bye-election to Provincial Assembly seat in Peshawar KP-8.

The party ticket for the provincial Assembly seat KP-8 was awarded to Malik Tamash Khan. The chairman directed the senior party leaders to mobilise all resources in support of the party candidate.

Bilawal expressed concern over the threatening calls made to Malik Tamash Khan by some militants to deter him from openly carrying out the election campaign and directed that the matter be raised with relevant authorities.

He also directed the Secretary General of the party to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission of Pakistan against the violations of code of conduct in the constituency.

Bilawal asked the party candidate and the newly appointed members of the Coordination Committee to keep his secretariat posted regularly about matters relating to the election campaign.

Later, EU Ambassador Jean Francois Cautain called on the PPP chief. “Issues of mutual interests were discussed in the meeting,” said a PPP statement. Central Information Secretaries of PPP and PPP Parliamentarians Qamar Zaman Kaira and Faisal Karim Kundi were also present in this meeting.

Meanwhile, Bilawal and former President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned attack on police mobile in Orangi Town Karachi in which seven policemen died. These policemen were on duty with polio teams.

The top PPP leaders in their joint statement said that such terror attacks will not weaken the resolve of nation to fight polio which is a crippling disease.

They said Pakistani nation will not let these terrorists to destroy the future of our generations.

They paid rich tributes to deceased policemen who sacrificed their lives for the future of the nation.