Pakistan’s Sharif Submits to Court Corruption Commission

  • Opposition leader Khan calls off Islamabad shut down
  • PM Sharif faces allegations of graft after Panama leak

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif submitted to a Supreme Court judicial commission which may probe corruption allegations against himself and his family, while opposition leader Imran Khan called off plans to shut down the capital in protest against the incumbent.

Sharif and Khan agreed with the court’s decision on Tuesday. Khan, a former cricket star and head of Pakistan’s third-largest party, will now hold a rally at the Parade Ground in Islamabad on Wednesday, after he said many of his supporters were injured by police, climbing down from a larger scale protest planned in the capital. Pakistan’s main stock index rose 3.5 percent, the most since March 2015.

“I saw the Supreme Court’s proceedings and was so happy to see that the court decided to start investigating Nawaz,” Khan, 64, told supporters in Islamabad. “Go back home, take rest because you have to come back to Islamabad tomorrow.”

Sharif, 66, has faced increasing political pressure this year after leaked files from a Panama law firm showed his children used offshore companies to make investments. Khan has repeatedly called for the prime minister to resign or submit to an investigation. The political turmoil has distracted from Sharif’s bid to boost economic growth to 7 percent by 2018, when he is up for re-election.

‘Lacking Ideas’

Along with planned increased investments of $46 billion from China announced last year, South Asia’s second-largest economy also completed a $6.6 billion International Monetary Fund loan program in September that averted a balance of payment crisis in 2013.

Despite the protests, “most corporate leaders and local economists” are positive Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League will win the next election given the economic pick up in the last three years amid infrastructure spending, Daniel Salter, an analyst at Renaissance Capital, said in a report on Tuesday. “Opposition parties are lacking in positive ideas and focus on protests and criticizing the government.”

Judges of the nation’s top court will meet again on Nov. 3 and asked Sharif and Khan to submit their terms on how a commission may probe corruption charges against the prime minister. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said he welcomed the decision by the opposition party not to “lock down” Islamabad.

“We’re determined to resolve this issue,” said Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, one of the five-member bench of Supreme Court. “We will not waste a day to decide it. The whole country is agitating and agitated and everyone is upset.”

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