Pakistan’s leader Shahid Abbasi will face the nation’s top court today on charges of corruption. The case relates to the awarding of a contract worth $1.9 billion for the import and distribution of liquefied natural gas in 2015 when Abbasi was minister for petroleum and natural resources.
The prosecution claims the current prime minister signed the contract without taking it to tender, at inflated prices, and made millions in kickbacks as a result.
Today, the court will decide whether there is enough evidence to sustain the charges. Even if the case does go ahead, it is unlikely to shake Pakistan’s political order as Mr Abbasi’s ruling PML-N party has a comfortable majority in parliament.
It has long been the governing party’s intention to install Shahbaz Sharif, brother of the ousted PM Nawaz Sharif, as its leader to contest elections—which are only six months away. Given the frequency of these corruption cases in Pakistani politics, if Abbasi falls, the ruling party will likely go to the polls shaken but not stirred. They may well be rejuvenated with a new Sharif in charge.
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John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.