What next for Pakistan after the Panama verdict

What next for Pakistan after the Panama verdict

Although Sharif has been disqualified as prime minister, he remains the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the largest party in the National Assembly.

As such, Sharif will oversee the nomination of his successor who will then be rubber stamped in a parliamentary vote, where his party and coalition partners command a 209-seat majority in the 342-seat house.

The opposition is also expected to field a candidate for the premiership, though the nominee has almost no chance of getting sufficient votes.

The vote will likely happen in a matter of days -- if not hours -- of Sharif´s disqualification.

Is there any precedent for this?

Yes, in 2012 then-prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was disqualified over contempt of court charges for refusing to reopen a corruption case against the sitting president Asif Ali Zardari.

After Gilani was ousted by the Supreme Court, President Zardari, the then-head of the ruling Pakistan People´s Party, led the negotiations to find a consensus candidate for the premiership.

Following three days of intense horse-trading within the fractious coalition government, PPP-loyalist Raja Pervaiz Ashraf -- a controversial choice also marred by corruption allegations -- was eventually elected prime minister by the National Assembly.

Could the court´s decision be challenged?

In theory, yes -- but it is highly unlikely.

Sharif´s legal team could file a review petition but only on very limited grounds, such as a mistake in the judgement.

"The Supreme Court is the interpreter and final arbiter of what the constitution means, so if the Supreme Court says that´s how it´s supposed to be done then for all practical purposes that is what it is," said constitutional lawyer Yasser Latif Hamdani.

Could an early election be called?

An early election is unlikely because according to the constitution it can only be called by the president on the advice of the prime minister, meaning a successor to Sharif would have to be chosen first.

Elections are currently due in 2018.