From Panama to the Supreme Court | Pakistan

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It all began in April 2016 with an unprecedented leak of 11.5 million documents from the database of a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, exposing politicians, celebrities, businessmen and criminals who had set up offshore companies.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family came under fire at home with opposition parties accusing them of widespread corruption, after names of the premier’s children cropped up in the leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm.

On April 5, the prime minister first addressed the nation, announcing to form a judicial commission to investigate the offshore firms owned by members of his family.

The premier once again addressed the nation on April 22, in the face of mounting pressure over the Panama Papers disclosures, saying he had nothing to hide and presented himself along with his family for accountability.

“I had announced to make a judicial commission under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge. Though I wasn’t named in the revelations, being a prime minister of a democratic country, I considered it as a duty to clear the air,” he said.

“I announce to present me and my family for accountability. I will go home if found guilty.”

On May 16, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked Parliament to form a commission to investigate allegations stemming from the Panama Papers leak.

“We are not afraid of anything and present ourselves for accountability,” Sharif told Parliament.

“I request the House to join me in formulating a charter, like the one I had signed with former (late) Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, to investigate the Panama Papers.”

The government and opposition agreed to form a commission to probe the leaks, but could not agree on its terms of reference (ToR) despite prolonged deliberations. Both sides insisted that the commission should probe the matter under their own ToRs.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf marched on Raiwind in September to further mount pressure on Sharif to present himself for accountability.

On October 20, 2016, the Supreme Court took up petitions by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamhoori Watan Party and others for hearing, in an open court, beginning the long-drawn proceedings of the case in the apex court. 

The PTI, unsatisfied with the pace of the apex court’s proceedings, attempted to ‘lock down’ Islamabad in November. This led to a crackdown by the government against the PTI’s protest. 

When political uncertainty was at its peak, the Supreme Court asked the government and PTI to present their respective ToR for an inquiry commission, observing that it will formulate its own ToR and timeframe for the completion of the probe in case no consensus is reached between the two parties.

Below is a timeline of major events which took place during the course of the Panama Leaks case: