Pakistan’s Supreme Court may not announce the verdict before August 15 in the Panamagate case against beleaguered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family for alleged corruption and money laundering, it emerged today after the court issued roster of cases for next two weeks. According to the Cause List, the court has set up benches to hear all cases till August 11 and it does not include the three-member bench which reserved the judgement last week after conclusion of the hearings in the Panama Papers case. The roster shows that two of the three judges on the special Panama case implementation bench will be out of Islamabad from next week until August 11.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed will be hearing cases in the apex court’s Lahore Registry while Justice Ijazul Ahsan will be proceeding on leave, reveals the roster. Only Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the bench, will be available in the capital. The court will be closed from August 12 to 14 due to the weekend, followed by the Independence Day which is observed in Pakistan on August 14. A six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) set up by the Supreme Court to investigate charges of money laundering against 67-year-old Sharif and his family had submitted the report on July 10 to the court, which could cost him his job.
The apex court concluded hearing the case on July 21, but reserved its verdict. The delay could be shocking to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party after its chief Imran Khan yesterday urged the apex court to issue the verdict without any further delay. “The public is awaiting the Supreme Court’s verdict,” he had said. Some of the PTI leaders are still hopeful for an early judgement, and Babar Awan said that the court may issue a supplementary cause list tomorrow and announce judgement. He said the court can also work and issue orders on the weekend. But it is believed that the chances of any judgment before August 15 are slim as the judges would like to see and analyse all documents and evidence before the crucial judgment.
Last year, the Panama Papers revealed that three of Prime Minister Sharif’s children owned offshore companies and assets not shown on his family’s wealth statement. The assets in question include four expensive flats in Park Lane, London. The top court took up the case in October last year on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Muslim League and Jamaat-e-Islami. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case is keenly awaited as it would determine the course of Pakistan’s polity and with it Sharif’s. An adverse decision may result in Sharif’s disqualification and even snap elections.