A few hours ahead of the Pakistan Supreme Court pronouncing its long-awaited verdict in the Panama Papers case, 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 Pakistan Muslim League 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 Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. He told a local news channel that the Prime Minister has “never been in the habit of accepting things that go against him”The PPP leader 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 verdict. Allegations of corruption were levelled against Sharif when documents leaked from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm presumably showed that his children owned offshore holding companies that were then used to buy properties in London.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which happens to be the main petitioner, has already predicted a guilty verdict for Sharif. The army leadership had earlier issued a statement that it would accept whatever verdict is made in the case.
The stock market has suffered on fears of Sharif, who is seen as pro-business, resigning from his post. Analysts say 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.