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Panamagate: Nawaz Sharif's fate hangs in balance ahead of Pakistan Supreme Court verdict

20 April, 2017 6:16 AM
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Panamagate: Nawaz Sharif's fate hangs in balance ahead of Pakistan Supreme Court verdict

Pakistan is anxiously awaiting its Supreme Court's decision in the high-profile Panama Papers case against Nawaz Sharif and his children later today.

Speculations are doing the rounds that a verdict against the Prime Minister would compel him to resign from the top post.

The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that its five-member bench would issue the verdict in Panama case later on April 20.

The case was first filed on November 3 and the court held 35 hearings before concluding the proceedings on February 23.

The case was based on several similar pleas by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan and others about the alleged illegal assets acquired by Sharif's family in London.

The assets surfaced when the Panama papers showed that they were managed through offshore firms that were owned by Sharif's kids.

Petitioners have asked the court to disqualify 67-year-old Sharif under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution as he was involved in corruption and no more "honest" and "truthful" as laid down in the Constitution.

It is generally believed the court may not disqualify the Prime Minister but may pass remarks which will bring a lot of moral pressure on Sharif to step down.

"I don't think he will be disqualified, but his moral authority may be impacted," said Manzoor Wassan, a senior leader of opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

In an interview to a private TV channel, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari asked Sharif to resign in case the verdict went against him.

"We did not resist when the Supreme Court disqualified [then premier] Yousaf Raza Gilani. We chose another prime minister. Nawaz should do the same", said Zardari.

Zardari's handpicked Prime Minister Gilani had quit in 2012 when the Supreme Court convicted him for disobeying court orders.

Zardari chaired a key meeting of PPP yesterday and has called another meeting today after the decision is announced to gauge the political situation.

Sharif's nemesis Imran Khan and his party have announced that they would launch a movement for the next election, irrespective of the outcome of today's decision.

Imran Khan held a meeting of his party leaders yesterday and asked them to stay in Islamabad to decide the further course of action after the court judgment.

Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, one of the petitioners, said that the decision would be "historic".

"It will result in a political earthquake in the country", he said in Rawalpindi.

Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz dispelled the impression that the premier was worried about the expected judgment in the Panama case.

"People love Nawaz Sharif. It is not about the prime minister speaking. It's what he's speaking. His narrative is constructive and about development and progress. Eyes forward, mind focused, heart on, world ! Wazir-e-Azam Nawaz Sharif," one of her tweets said.

She also taunted the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf saying, "When all your plans have miserably failed and your precarious future hinges on... your best bet is a court decision".

Sharif's supporters are adamant that their leader is "innocent" and will emerge stronger after the verdict.

"His name is not in the Panama leaks. He has not committed any wrongdoing. So, he will be victorious," said Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.

Dozens of policemen and personnel of law-enforcing agencies are present around the court.

Irrespective of the impact of the decision, it is believed that that the ruling will be an important milestone in the fight against corruption.


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