Panama Papers: Pak SC to decide Nawaz Sharif’s fate today, PML-N weighs early poll options

Lahore: Pakistan’s ruling PML-N is weighing the option of early election in case of an adverse verdict by the Supreme Court in the high-profile Panama gate case involving Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif and his children.

PML-N leadership held meetings on Wednesday to chalk out strategy in the wake of Panama verdict.

“The option of early election (this year) is being discussed by the leadership in case of the apex court’s decision affecting Prime Minister Sharif,” a PML-N leader said.

He said there had been two points of view in the party in case of an adverse verdict; one supporting the option of going into early election justifying that it would not let Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) exploit the situation and the PML-N would easily retain its position in next polls.

The other group in the PML-N is against going for early election. “We should complete our tenure no matter what the decision is. The party should go for the option of giving the replacement of Sharif as early election will not be a good option,” he said.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said in case the decision somehow affects the premier, the PML-N should go into polls as per scheduled in 2018.

“Nawaz Sharif will be more stronger sitting outside the prime minister’s house. Nawaz can give his replacement in parliament,” he said, adding Sharif “rules the hearts of the people” and Imran Khan has no chance to win neither in early nor in 2018 elections.”

The Supreme Court’s verdict on the high-profile Panamagate case could “make or break” the country’s most powerful political family ahead of election due next year.

The case essentially seeks disqualification of 67-year- old Sharif over his alleged misstatement in his address to the nation on April 5 and his speech before the National Assembly on May 16, 2016.

Imran’s party is the main petitioner in the Panama case involving alleged illegal money laundering by Sharif in 1990s when he twice served as Prime Minister to purchase assets in London. The assets surfaced when Panama papers showed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.

Meanwhile, Imran’s party hoped that Sharif will be disqualified after the Supreme Court’s verdict as “irrefutable evidence” has been presented against him in the court. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will go home tomorrow after the apex court’s verdict in Panama case.

The premier is going to be disqualified in the light of irrefutable evidence presented against him in the court,” the party’s Secretary General, Jehangir Tareen said.

He said except the Qatari letter “which has no legal value”, Sharif could not present anything substantial to defend himself and his children in the Panama case. “It is time for Nawaz Sharif to name his successor from his party as he cannot continue as the premier after the decision,” he said.

“Hudabia case of Rs 1.2bn money laundering will also be reopened in the wake of the apex court’s verdict,” Tareen said, adding the party might hold a series of public meetings and rallies after the decision.