Government and Opposition Fight Over Future Prime Minister

While talking to media representative outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad, the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb demanded that the volume 10 of the JIT report should be made public.

The controversy erupted a year ago with the publication of 11.5 million secret documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca documenting the offshore dealings of numerous world’s rich and powerful.

Sharif, the son of an industrialist, will have his fate decided by the Supreme Court, which could disqualify him or order a trial. Two dissenting judges, however, recommended Mr Sharif’s disqualification, with one justice equating Mr Sharif to a “godfather” of an Italian-style Mafia. “The JIT report about our family businesses is the sum of hypotheses, accusations and slander”, Sharif said in a statement after meeting his cabinet.

Sharif narrowly escaped being ousted after the Supreme Court in April said it did not have sufficient evidence to oust the leader. Rana Sanaullah said the objections against the JIT had been raised in the Supreme Court.

The top court took up the case in October past 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. This was an opportunity for PTI to launch a campaign against the Sharif family. As a result of the investigation, Khan is calling for Sharif to step down and is demanding fresh elections.

Her 67-year-old father, serving a third stint as prime minister, faces widespread calls to resign but his allies say the report is biased and inaccurate. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), on a number of occasions, has said that the investigation is not just a conspiracy against Pakistan’s democracy, but also an attempt to derail the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) implementation in the country.

PM Sharif has contended that the “controversial” JIT had submitted a report “based on accusations and conjecture” that reflected “animosity and malice”. However, the issue of impartial accountability becomes problematic when more than 400 other citizens whose names also appeared in the Panama Papers are let off the hook.

It accuses his heir-apparent, daughter Maryam Sharif, of being the “beneficial owner” of offshore firms through which the London flats were acquired, and of forging documents to show she was a trustee for her brother, the real owner.

If the SC decides to implement the report, perhaps by next week, Sharif might either be removed or, at the very least, be rendered completely ineffectual. The 2006 document claims that she was only a trustee and not owner of two offshore companies that bought the apartments. It was written in Calibri font, which the investigation team noted wasn’t released commercially until 2007. The above is a huge cause of celebration for the opposition. Now that the prime minister is embattled in the so-called Panama Papers corruption scandal, his daughter has also emerged as his defender number 1.