LAHORE: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has finally filed a reply in a defamation case and identified a “common friend” who allegedly offered him Rs 1,000 crore on behalf of Shahbaz Sharif to withdraw the Panama Papers case in the Supreme Court against then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Khan in 2017 had alleged that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shabaz offered him Rs 1,000 crore through a “common friend” to withdraw the Panama Papers case in the Supreme Court against then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Khan at that time did not disclose the identity of the person who offered him the bribe on behalf of Shahbaz.
Shahbaz, 69, is the younger brother of 71-year-old Nawaz Sharif.
Following Khan’s allegation, Shahbaz filed a defamation case against the cricketer-turned-politician.
In a written reply to Lahore session court on Tuesday in response to the defamation suit, Prime Minister Khan disclosed the name of the person who offered him Rs 1,000 crore to withdraw the Panama Papers case against Sharif 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 for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good which 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.
Shahbaz himself made numerous “defaming and malicious” statements against Khan and other leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) as well as other political parties in the past, the counsel said, requesting the court to dismiss the suit as the PML-N leader is not entitled to any damages.
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 1,000 crore as compensation for the “defamatory” comment, which caused great damage to his reputation in the public.
In a statement on Wednesday, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Auranzeb demanded an apology from Prime Minister 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.
“Does a liar, incompetent and unqualified person deserve to be the leader of the Pakistani nation?” she asked.
In the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, the Supreme Court in July 2017 disqualified Sharif.
He was later convicted in two corruption cases — Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia — and sentenced to a seven-year jail term.