Pakistan braces for Panama Papers verdict on PM Nawaz Sharif

429 desk, July 28: Pakistan is bracing itself for a landmark court verdict that could see Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif forced to resign over corruption allegations.

It follows an investigation into his family’s wealth after the 2015 Panama Papers dump linked Mr Sharif’s children to offshore companies.

Mr Sharif denies any wrongdoing, but the case has exposed a divided nation.

The Supreme Court will decide if the case is to be dismissed, sent to trial or if he should simply be disqualified.

No civilian prime minister of Pakistan has ever completed a five-year term and Mr Sharif himself is serving as prime minister for a record third time.

He is less than a year away from becoming the first to complete a full term in office.

This ruling represents the peak of a drama that has fuelled frenzied news coverage and heated social media debates for months, attracting both scorn and ridicule as well as trenchant support for the prime minister.

The divisions fall largely along party lines but amid the febrile accusations, many have also expressed concerns over Pakistan’s political culture.

The Wikipedia profile of the prime minister has also been rewritten, dated late Thursday evening and littered with obscenities and accusations.

A probe into Mr Sharif and his family began when leaked papers from a Panama-based law firm linked Mr Sharif’s children to offshore companies used to buy several luxury central London flats.

The opposition was quick to accuse the prime minister of corruption and a subsequent special inquiry said his family had failed to account for the source of its financial assets.

The report caused an uproar in the country and opposition groups accuse his family of using their political influence to build up their personal wealth and are calling on him to resign.

The prime minister – who himself is not named in the Panama Papers – denies all allegations and insists they are politically motivated. There were also questions over the make-up of the investigation team.

Source: Agencies