World Bulletin / News Desk
The Supreme Court of Pakistan will announce its much-awaited judgment in the Panama leaks scandal involving Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family on Thursday, according to the court’s schedule list on Wednesday.
A five-member bench of the apex court led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will announce the judgment at 2 p.m. local time (0900GMT) in the capital Islamabad.
The court had reserved its judgment in the case in February after an over four-month long hearing.
The Supreme Court had accepted four separate petitions in September 2016 filed by politicians Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamat-e-Islami Chief Siraj-ul-Haq and others seeking Sharif’s disqualification from office.
Sharif, who is serving as premier for the third term, has lately come under immense pressure from the opposition and the media after the Panama Papers were leaked last year, which revealed that his two sons -- Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz -- and daughter Mariyam Nawaz owned offshore companies.
The premier maintains his innocence and has rejected all accusations of financial irregularities against him. He has repeatedly said that all transactions made by his family members were fair and in accordance with the country’s laws.
The judges, however, did not seem to be satisfied with the money trail provided by Sharif’s lawyers or with the supposed proof presented by the opposition during the months-long hearing.
In April 2016, Sharif's eldest son, Hussain Nawaz, admitted in an interview with a local Pakistan channel that his family owned the offshore companies and controversial flats in London.
He had insisted the transactions were all legal and refused to make his assets public, claiming that such a move could harm his business interests.
Sharif came to power for a third term following his right-wing Pakistan Muslim League Party’s landslide victory in the 2013 elections. His previous two terms as prime minister had ended prematurely under pressure from the Pakistani military.
The documents released by Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in April last year pointed fingers at 140 politicians worldwide, among them 11 current and former national leaders, claiming they worked with Mossack Fonseca to establish shadow companies for global transactions and money laundering.
Their revelation sent shockwaves across the world, resulting in the resignation of Iceland’s Premier Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and political pressure on the then British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who later admitted to having a profitable stake in a fund owned by his father.
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Diplomats in Manila said the other parties apparently refer to the United States and regional powers China, Japan and South Korea -- all key strategic players in the region.
Human Rights Watch said the incident was another sign of widespread rights abuse under Duterte's war on drugs, which has seen thousands of drug suspects killed either by policemen or mysterious vigilantes.
US-led NATO troops have been at war in Afghanistan since 2001, after the ousting of the Taliban regime for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
The two countries have been in a security alliance since the 1950-53 Korean war, and more than 28,000 US troops are stationed in the South.