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Pakistan: Supreme Court hears Panama leaks case

Petition by Imran Khan's party seeks probe into corruption allegations against the prime minister and his family.

PTI supporters

Pakistan's Supreme Court has heard the defence's arguments in the Panama Papers case involving members of the prime minister's family, while marches are staged by hundreds of people across Islamabad demanding Nawaz Sharif's resignation.

The court on Tuesday directed all the respondents to submit their comments to form a commission to investigate the Panama Papers leaks before adjourning the hearings, which will resume on Thursday, according to local media reports.

A petition filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has levelled corruption allegations at Sharif and his family and demanded an investigation.

READ MORE: Pakistani politician Imran Khan's supporters arrested 

Sheikh Rasheed, of the PTI-allied Awami Muslim League, has demanded that a commission be formed to follow up the matter.

Another petition was filed by the Jamaat-e-Islami demanding an investigation into all Pakistani companies named in the Panama Papers.

The hearing coincides with days of anti-government protests led by the opposition politician Imran Khan. He called for a shutdown of Islamabad on Wednesday, to pressure Nawaz Sharif to resign, but reports on Tuesday suggested that he had backed down.

Instead of the protest, Khan said that he would hold a "celebratory" rally, following a decision by the Supreme Court to pursue a case linked to Sharif.

"On the Supreme Court's advice, we have decided that tomorrow we will thank God and celebrate a day of thanks at [Islamabad's] parade ground," Khan told media.

Two PTI supporters reportedly died after inhaling tear gas used by police to prevent hundreds of protesters from entering Islamabad on Tuesday, the opposition party said. 

"Two of our workers have been killed due to excessive use of expired tear-gas shells," said Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a senior PTI leader, said on local Geo TV.

READ MORE: Pakistan - Police clash with protesters in Rawalpindi 

Local authorities could not immediately be reached to confirm any deaths.

Pakistan police launched a nationwide crackdown on Monday, arresting up to 1,800 PTI supporters following intermittent clashes.

Amnesty International on Tuesday called on Pakistan to release the activists detained before a planned mass protest

Champa Patel, the UK-based rights monitor's South Asia director, said there was no justification for what she called a "repressive crackdown" by police.

Analysts believe the role of the all-powerful army will be key in determining the outcome of the ongoing confrontation, and Sharif may need to strike a deal with them that would leave him further weakened to ensure his survival.

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