Pakistan's top court seeks reply from PM over money scandal

Created: 10/20/2016 7:53 AM

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday sought a reply from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to several petitions seeking his resignation over a financial scandal involving his family.

The court gave Sharif two weeks to submit his response, Sharif's aides and opposition leaders told reporters outside the courthouse.

The premier has been under pressure from the opposition to step down because his family members were named as holders of offshore bank accounts in leaked financial documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The PM has defended his financial record, attempting to explain financial details of his family business, including in two TV speeches.

Sharif on Thursday welcomed with the court's request with "an open heart." He said that he always wanted a transparent investigation and alleged the opposition frustrated his attempts to let the nation know the facts.

"I completely believe in supremacy of law and constitution," he said. He asked the opposition to wait for the court decision.

One of the petitions came from the opposition party of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan who is threatening to bring tens of thousands of protesters to the capital, Islamabad, on Nov. 2 to press for Sharif's disqualification.

The legal move was the first step to make the prime minister answerable to the law, Khan said. "We wanted to have it settled in parliament, but the prime minister didn't present himself there for accountability."

He said the court proceedings didn't mean that he would postpone the street rallies.

Sharif's aide and Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said the government was ready to be transparent and accountable. "We will never escape," he said. "We're ready for accountability at any forum."

Another of Sharif's ministers Khawaja Saad Rafique said there was no reason for any more protest rallies now that the country's top court had taken up the issue.

(Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)