ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court is set to determine the prime minister’s fate Thursday with a ruling on corruption allegations that could see him ousted from power after the Panama Papers linked his family to offshore businesses.
The decision, highly anticipated by Pakistanis, threatens to plunge Nawaz Sharif’s governing party into turmoil ahead of general elections which must be held by next year, and as security and the economy improve in the militancy-plagued country.
The controversy erupted with the publication of the so-called Panama Papers last year, 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which documented the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful.
Among the global elite implicated were three of Sharif’s four children — his daughter and presumptive political heir Maryam, and his sons Hasan and Hussein.
At the heart of the matter is the legitimacy of the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies.
The government insists the wealth was acquired legally through family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.
But lawyers for Pakistani cricketer-turned-opposition-leader Imran Khan argue the paper trail for the funds is non-existent, and say the onus is on Sharif to prove his relatives did not engage in money laundering.
The case has dominated headlines in Pakistan for the better part of a year, though many observers believe the court — which has emphasised it is not conducting a criminal trial — would be reluctant to directly oust Sharif.
It has taken such action before, however. In 2012, the Supreme Court held Prime Minister…