The notice issued to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and some of his family members by the country’s Supreme Court on petitions seeking his disqualification over alleged corruption and illegally possessing assets abroad as detailed in the Panama papers spells trouble for the already beleaguered leader. Whispers about Sharif’s amassing of huge assets were doing the rounds for long in Pakistan but with sensational revelations in the Panama papers, the heat on him increased manifold.
With the Imran Khan-led opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf threatening an ‘Occupy Islamabad’ sit-in over alleged money-laundering by the Sharif family, internal turmoil was well on the cards because public support for action against them was high. Now, with the Supreme Court having stepped in, matters have defused for now but people would be watching with hawk eyes. The petitions are to disqualify Sharif as prime minister and for confiscation of any ill-gotten assets.
The Jamaat e-Islami chief, Sirajul Haq, in his petition, did not mention the premier’s name and urged the court to issue directives to investigating agencies for a probe into the Panama Papers scandal, arrest the people involved, recover the public money and bring it back to Pakistan.
Considering that a section in the army is also opposed to Sharif and he has been rendered weak by the army top brass breathing down his neck, the Supreme Court trial has assumed high importance. In a sense the success or failure of the petitions against Sharif would be a determinant of whether he has made peace with the army or the army wants his head on the chopping block. Indeed, Nawaz Sharif’s cup of woes is full.
Besides the corruption charges against him, there is the stigma of the international isolation of Pakistan and the success of the Indian case that the country is a hotbed and instigator of terror. The economy is being mishandled with the acute power shortage crippling industry. All in all, Nawaz is in dire straits.