LAHORE: Former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif submitted a plea on Friday to expedite the defamation suit filed against Prime Minister Imran Khan, who made a controversial statement against the PML-N leader two years ago in relation to the Panama Papers case.
The PML-N president submitted the miscellaneous plea to a sessions court in Lahore, where Judge Sohail Anjum heard the petition.
In his plea, Shehbaz’s lawyer Babar Awan said that PM Imran Khan is not presenting before the court in the case.
The complainant’s lawyer said that defamation case against the premier is pending since past three years.
Following the arguments, the court subsequently issued a notice to the nominated parties’ lawyers for a response.
The defamation case
In 2017, Shehbaz Sharif sent a Rs10 billion defamation notice to then PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
The notice, which had been filed under sections 4 and 9 of the Defamation Ordinance, 2002, stated that Imran falsely accused Shehbaz of making him a financial offer for his ‘silence over the Panama Papers case’.
The petition stated that “the facts and circumstances giving rise to the filing of the instant suit are that since the last week of April, 2017, the Defendant [Imran Khan] started uttering, spreading and resorting to the publication, communication and circulation of maliciously false, baseless and unfounded oral statements and representations against the Plaintiff [Shehbaz].”
Moreover, it said that Imran claimed that Shehbaz “offered to pay a sum of Rs10,000,000,000 to the Defendant in exchange for his withdrawing/backing-off from, or remaining silent on the issue of the Panama Papers’ case.”
In April 2017, Khan during a gathering at Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Lahore, alleged that he had been made an offer in the Panama case.
“Just imagine how much money he offered me to be silent — Rs10 billion! If he can offer me this much money, just imagine how much he could offer to others. That is why if we don’t maintain public pressure on this issue, then after two months it will be dragged to the next year,” Khan had claimed.
In an interview televised following the statement, Khan refused to reveal the name of the person who made the offer but did state that this person was close to the Punjab chief minister.