Who is the richest person in Pakistan

Pakistan's strong man must tremble

Since the publication of the so-called Panama Papers, the Pakistani opposition has been calling for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign. Now she is closer to her goal than ever before.

The political future of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his powerful family clan rests in the hands of the country's highest court. On Monday, the Supreme Court began final negotiations on a corruption scandal that has kept the country in suspense for more than a year and which could end with the head of government's impeachment and criminal conviction. The tension in the country is correspondingly high.

Long-term consequences of "Panama Gate"

The affair has its origins in the so-called Panama Papers, which caused a sensation worldwide in April 2016. The records of the law firm Mossack Fonseca, published by an international consortium of journalists, also showed assets of Nawaz Sharif's children, including expensive properties at prime addresses in London. The Sharif family is one of the richest in the country and owns, among other things, the Ittefaq group, which was founded by Nawaz Sharif's father and is active in the steel business.

Pakistani opposition politicians, all from Imran Khan, the founder and leader of the left-wing liberal Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) party, brought corruption charges against the prime minister and his family. In view of the increasing pressure, Sharif agreed to set up a commission of inquiry, but it never came into being. The PTI and other opposition parties asked the Supreme Court to consider impeachment. In October the Supreme Court took the matter up.

In a first judgment in April of this year, the judges found that the evidence was insufficient to impeach him, but ordered the establishment of an investigation team made up of representatives of the political opposition and the powerful security apparatus. Last week, these investigators presented their findings to the supreme court. Among other things, they came to the conclusion that the Sharif family's business activities were insufficient to prove the origin of the assets; most of the family-owned companies posted losses. In addition, the daughter of the Prime Minister, Maryam Sharif, who is traded as the political heir to the throne, is accused of having presented forged documents, for which she could be prosecuted. Two letters from the Qatari royal family in which Prince Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani confirms a major transfer of money to Sharif for earlier investments in Qatar are also described as untruthful.

Powerful security apparatus

Sharif and his family deny the allegations and speak of a political conspiracy. The investigation committee is portrayed as biased. In fact, this consists primarily of political opponents; Sharif's family has recently been increasingly in conflict with the security apparatus. In previous campaigns by the opposition politician Imran Khan against Sharif, there were suspicions that the security apparatus was supporting them. In Pakistan, the army and the secret service are the strongest forces and have toppled civil governments several times if they acted too independently. Sharif, who was Prime Minister twice in the 1990s, was also deposed by the military in 1999.

For Sharif, the question of what support he still enjoys in his party is also important. Some observers believe that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) could turn away from its chairman regardless of the Supreme Court ruling in order to continue to govern with a comfortable majority in parliament until next year's elections. Accordingly, his daughter Maryam, who was considered the next candidate for the office of prime minister, would no longer be tenable. However, the party is very much aligned with the Sharif family and it is questionable whether such a radical break will occur. Opposition politicians like Imran Khan, of course, hope that the Supreme Court will remove Sharif directly.