A looming Supreme Court decision that could disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over corruption allegations had the country on edge Wednesday, as a drawn-out investigation related to the "Panama Papers" leaks neared a conclusion.
The Supreme Court's five-member bench could clear the prime minister, order further investigations or even remove him from office. Two judges ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif, whereas the other three were in favour of forming a JIT.
Sharif and his children are accused of graft in the ongoing case which has captivated Pakistan and threatened to topple the prime minister after the Panama Papers leak a year ago linked the family to offshore businesses.
Owning off-shore companies is not illegal in Pakistan, but Sharif's political opponents allege that this $25m was gained through corruption during his previous two terms in office as prime minister in the 1990s. He noted that a JIT was proposed by the prime minister himself some months ago.
The court ordered Sharif, and his two sons - Hasan and Hussain - to appear before the JIT, which would include officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI).
Late previous year, the Supreme Court made a decision to investigate Sharif's offshore affiliations, after Opposition Leader Imran Khan threatened major protests.
Judges took up applications in November following a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed his three children either owned or have signing rights to authorize transactions of four offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.
The leaked documents from the Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, had revealed the hidden offshore wealth of some of the world's top leaders and celebrities.
Pakistani opposition leader and Chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Imran Khan, arrives at the Supreme Court, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, April 20, 2017.
Government supporters could be seen celebrating the judgement with candies outside the court in Islamabad, where around 1,500 police commandos and riot forces had been deployed ahead of the highly anticipated decision.
Since the Panama Papers in June 2016, opposition parties have been jumping at the opportunity to register their protests and mobilise supporters to rally against Nawaz Sharif. The court directed a five-member team to be formed to investigate the contents of the Panama Papers.
But for now, Sharif and his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, are celebrating.
Saadia Toor, associate professor at City University New York, said the scourge of corruption extended far beyond Sharif and offshore wealth.