(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
ISLAMABAD/KARACHI - A looming Supreme Court decision that could disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over corruption allegations had the country on edge Wednesday, as a drawn-out investigation related to the "Panama Papers" leaks neared a conclusion.
Disqualifying Sharif would leave his party in power, but it would cause intense turmoil at a time when Pakistan is experiencing modest growth and improved security after years of violence, and the civilian government and powerful military have appeared to come to uneasy terms.
Sharif has denied any wrongdoing, but the Supreme Court agreed to investigate his family's offshore wealth late last year after opposition leader Imran Khan threatened street protests.
The Supreme Court could take a range a of steps.
It could clear the prime minister, or order a further judicial commission of inquiry or even declare him ineligible to hold office, as it did in 2012 with then-Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani over a contempt of court case.
Pakistani stocks fell 1.5 percent in early trade after the news overnight that a decision would be announced on Thursday afternoon. The benchmark KSE 100 later regained some ground but was still in negative territory by midday.
Both the government and opposition expressed confidence on Wednesday.
"There is no chance that decision will come against our leadership. Our government and entire leadership are performing their duties as per routine," Talal Chaudhry a prominent leader of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz told Geo Television.