Islamabad, April 20
Hours ahead of Pakistan’s Supreme Court pronouncing its long-awaited verdict in the Panama Papers case on Thursday, several political parties have advised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down if he is found guilty of corruption. However, Sharif’s supporters in the ruling PML-N party believe he should call for fresh elections instead of giving up the fight. This opinion is echoed by some experts too. “Ideally, Sharif would need six months to be in a better position because many of his government’s promised projects are yet to be inaugurated. However, he is in a strong position even now,” said political analyst Mubashir Zaidi.
Joining the chorus for Sharif’s resignation was the co-chairman of the main opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari, who told a news channel that the premier has “never been in the habit of accepting things that go against him”.
Zardari warned that any reluctance on Sharif’s part could have an adverse impact on democracy. “If there are agitations, it won’t be good for democracy,” he said.
Meanwhile, the entire country continues to hold its breath in anticipation of the apex court’s verdict. Allegations of corruption were levelled against Sharif when documents leaked from the Panama-based law firm of Mossack Fonseca showed that his children owned offshore holding companies that were used to buy properties in London.
The opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which is the main petitioner in the case in the Supreme Court, has already predicted a guilty verdict for Sharif.
The army leadership has said in a statement that it will accept whatever verdict is given in the case.
The stock market has suffered on fears of Sharif, who is seen as pro-business, resigning from his post. Analysts said while most projects linked with Chinese and Turkish companies will continue irrespective of the government in power, small investors will suffer.
“Investors are afraid of the political uncertainty that accompanies such developments,” said an observer.
Islamabad, April 20