Sharif in trouble
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's troubles seem to be growing by the day. On Tuesday, the country’s Apex Court began hearing a case into the Panama papers leaks after details emerged of offshore companies and undeclared assets allegedly owned by the Prime Minister’s family. The court’s announcement has given a fillip to opposition parties, led by Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), who have sought Sharif’s resignation on charges of corruption. Former cricket captain-turned-politician Imran Khan has vowed that one million supporters would shut down Islamabad today as part of long-running efforts to force the government out of power. Further encouragement for the opposition came in the form a court order that partially lifted the government’s ban on all public gatherings in Islamabad. The PTI chief is not alone, as he garners support from the likes of Hafiz Saeed, the head of Pakistan's banned outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and popular cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri. These developments come only days after 60 people, most of them young police cadets, were killed in a horrific terrorist strike in Quetta, while Sharif continues to defend his government’s policy after the attack. Since the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army, Pakistan continues to indulge in ceasefire violations across the Line of Control. However, Imran Khan believes that Sharif is only pursuing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda in Pakistan. Experts contend that these developments against Sharif come at a time when he is expected to announce Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif’s successor. Although commentators have not ruled on an extension for Raheel Sharif, the Pakistan Prime Minister is reportedly considering other options. But does he possess the requisite courage of conviction to choose his candidate? The Panama Papers leak has rendered Sharif vulnerable. In the past, he has offered little resistance to the military as it has steadily encroached on his authority. With some arguing that the PTI-led protests have the backing of the Pakistan military, things indeed look bleak.