SLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan Tuesday abruptly called off a planned “lockdown” of Islamabad after Supreme Court paved the way for investigation into Panama Papers leaks against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family.
Premier Nawaz Sharif has been under growing pressure from opposition parties, mainly Imran Khan’s PTI, which had vowed one million supporters would shut down Islamabad on Wednesday as part of long-running efforts to force the government out of power.
Police have repeatedly clashed with protesters in recent days, detaining more than 1,000 PTI supporters from across the country since last week after imposing a ban on all public gatherings in Islamabad, which was later partly lifted by a court order.
On Tuesday, Supreme Court began hearing a case into the Panama Papers Leaks and offered to form a commission to investigate revelations that Sharif’s children had offshore accounts.
“We are determined to resolve this issue. We will solve it and we will solve it as soon as possible. Now the highest forum in the country in regards to dispute resolution has taken up this matter, so now you hold your positions, please restrain,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, one of the five judges hearing the case told the court.
The ruling was applauded by Khan, who held a press conference at his home on the outskirts of Islamabad to declare victory.
“I am so happy that the Supreme Court has decided that from Thursday it will begin probing Nawaz Sharif,” he said, surrounded by ecstatic supporters. He added that his supporters would instead hold a rally thanking the Supreme Court for its decision.
The move brought an anti-climactic end to what observers believed could have become a protracted confrontation, similar to a four-month sit-in led by Khan in 2014.
But although Khan had repeatedly vowed to bring a million protesters to the capital, disruption had been thus far limited to a few areas around the city and the Peshawar-Islamabad highway, where some 5,000 PTI supporters were blocked from entering the capital.sam