This week Pakistan’s Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is corrupt. The country is in turmoil with its often febrile politics turned up to boiling point. The trigger point for the Supreme Court hearing is clear. Earlier this month, the Joint Investigation Team, set up after the Panama Papers brought to light corruption allegations, issued some explosive findings. To understand the crisis in totality, however, we need to go back to the result of the 2013 general election.
While the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) formed government easily on the back of that election result, its electoral strength comes from only one of the country’s four provinces. Outside of Punjab it had little support. Meanwhile the election also saw Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) emerge as the biggest opposition party at a national level. It has rarely stopped agitating since. In March last year