22:55, 16 February 2019
watch on Dushanbe time, GMT+5
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Pakistan on alert as top court to rule in case that may oust PM

A ring of steel was placed around Pakistan's Supreme Court Thursday

ahead of a ruling on corruption allegations that could see the prime minister ousted from power after the Panama Papers linked his family to offshore businesses. Around 1,500 police commandoes and riot forces have been deployed around the court in Islamabad ahead of the highly-anticipated decision, expected in the afternoon. Dozens of baton-wielding police were also seen along some roads leading into the capital. The controversy threatens to plunge Nawaz Sharif's governing party into turmoil ahead of looming general elections, and as security and the economy improve in the militancy-plagued country. It erupted with the publication of the so-called Panama Papers last year, 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which documented the offshore dealings of many of the world's rich and powerful. Among the global elite implicated were three of Sharif's four children -- his daughter and presumptive political heir Maryam, and his sons Hasan and Hussein. At the heart of the matter is the legitimacy of the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies. Sharif's ruling PML-N party insists the wealth was acquired legally through family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.