An opposition supporter cheers the news of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's conviction for corruption in Islamabad, July 2017.
Caren Firouz / Reuters

On Friday, Pakistan's top court disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding any public office after finding him guilty in a massive corruption case. After the Supreme Court referred the evidence that it had gathered in its investigation to Pakistan’s Accountability Bureau and urged the opening of cases against Sharif and his family, the prime minister stepped down. 

The turmoil was the culmination of a year of political drama set off by the 2016 Panama Papers leaks, which appeared to show that the Sharif family had billions in hidden wealth and assets parked in offshore companies. As soon as the leaks became public knowledge, one opposition party, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) led by former cricket star Imran Khan, demanded that Sharif step down and face a probe into graft charges. As PTI-led protests threatened to lock down Islamabad in October last year, the beleaguered Sharif government mobilized to suppress the rallies

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