Pakistan’s Supreme Court is set to announce on Friday its much-awaited verdict in the Panamagate case that could see Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resign over corruption allegations.
The scandal is about alleged money laundering by 67-year-old Sharif in 1990s, when he twice served as prime minister, to purchase assets in London. The assets surfaced when Panama Papers leak last year revealed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.
The assets include four expensive flats in London.
Sharif, who has been the prime minister of Pakistan for a record three time, faces the risk of being disqualified if the court finds him guilty of corruption and money laundering.
He leads Pakistan’s most powerful political family and the ruling PML-N party. The verdict is keenly awaited as both of Sharif’s first two stints have ended in the third year of his tenure.
A steel tycoon-cum-politician, Sharif had served as the Pakistan’s prime minister for the first time from 1990 to 1993. His second term from 1997 was ended in 1999 by Army chief Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup.
In May, the Supreme Court set up a six-member joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate the charges against Sharif and his family.
The JIT submitted its report to the court on July 10.
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It said the lifestyle of Sharif and his children were beyond their known sources of income and recommended the filing of a new corruption case against them.
Sharif dismissed the report as a “bundle of baseless allegations” and refused to quit, despite demands to do so from several quarters, including opposition political parties.
On July 21, the court reserved its verdict after concluding the hearing.
In the wake of the verdict, Islamabad police have announced special security arrangements and closed the capital’s central “Red Zone” area, which has important buildings including the Supreme Court, for the general public.
The entry to the court will be restricted to only those having special passes.
The six-member JIT was set up with a mandate to probe the Sharif family for allegedly failing to provide the trail of money used to buy properties in London in the 1990s.
The top court took up the case in October last year on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Muslim League and Jamaat-e-Islami and reserved the verdict in February after conducting hearings on a daily basis.