Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PAKISTAN prime minister Imran Khan has identified a “common friend” who allegedly offered a bribe on behalf of Shahbaz Sharif to withdraw the Panama Papers case in the Supreme Court against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Khan in 2017 had alleged that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shabaz offered him Rs 10 billion (£44.6 million) through a “common friend” to withdraw the Panama Papers case in the Supreme Court against Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister at the time.
Khan then had not disclosed the identity of the person who offered him the bribe on behalf of Shahbaz.
Shahbaz, 69, the younger brother of 71-year-old Nawaz Sharif, filed a defamation case against the cricketer-turned-politician.
In a written reply to Lahore sessions court on Tuesday (27) in response to the defamation suit, Khan named the person as “Omar Farooq”.
“Omar Farooq — a common friend — made this offer to Imran Khan,” the prime minister’s counsel told the court.
The counsel said the incident was disclosed “in the interest of the public good” and “it does not constitute any defamation”.
He said the plaintiff and the defendant are political rivals and have been facing each other in the political arena for more than two decades.
Additional district and sessions judge Mudassir Farid adjourned the hearing till August 4.
In the four years, Khan’s legal team sought adjournments on at least 50 hearings.
In his petition, Shahbaz requested the court to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10b (£44.6m) as compensation for the “defamatory” comment.
In a statement on Wednesday (28), PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb demanded an apology from Khan for levelling baseless allegations against the opposition leader.
Calling him a “pathological liar”, she said Khan is no longer “morally eligible” to hold the office of a member of the National Assembly and the prime minister of Pakistan.
In the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, the Supreme Court in July 2017 disqualified Nawaz Sharif. He was later convicted in two corruption cases — Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia — and sentenced to a seven-year jail term.
The PML-N supremo has been living in London since November 2019 after the Lahore High Court permitted him to go abroad for four weeks for treatment.
He was declared a proclaimed offender last year by the Islamabad High Court after he failed to appear before it despite several warnings.