Credit must be given to the indefatigable optimism of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) chairman, Imran Khan, who has approached the Supreme Court hearing on the Panamgate scandal with steadfast confidence in a favourable result - notwithstanding the fact that burden of proof, and the odds, are stacked against him.

The apex court may have shouldered the burden of passing a verdict on Panamagate, but it has done so reluctantly after several attempts to stay clear of the scandal. Given the enormity of the decision, if given against the Prime Minister, and the political ramifications of such a verdict, it is not hard to see why.

In such a scenario it is safe to say that if the court is presented with anything less that concrete and undeniably damning evidence, it is likely that it will let the government off, even if it seems less than innocent on the balance of probabilities. Coupled with the fact that tracing the history of the Sharif family’s wealth accumulation and the propriety of its taxation and foreign transfer procedure is a lengthy and complicated matter - one that the appellate court has no power to do on its own - the burden of proof on the opposition’s legal teams is a heavy one. According to the Pakistan Muslim Leauge - Nawaz (PML-N), it is an unsurmountable one.

Imran Khan, however, claims to hold the vital document; copies of the Prime Minister’s nomination papers for 2013 elections in which he declared Maryam Nawaz as a dependent. Which is at odds with the fact that the Panama papers which showed her as a trustee of two offshore companies, and de facto owner of several expensive properties. PTI may not be able to prove that the Sharif family has generated its wealth through unfair means and moved it abroad illegally, but it may be able to prove that Maryam Nawaz, her husband, and crucially the Prime Minister, lied on his nomination papers.

Prima facie it seems that he did, and the subsequent statements made by the several family members don’t add up, further sullying the government’s case. While this is enough evidence to prove wrongdoing in the eyes of the opposition - and to a large extent, the people - will the court consider it as such? Or will it put more weight in the Prime Minister’s tax returns, where Maryam Nawaz is not shown as a dependent?

Setting everything aside, the question of dependency may be the crucial factor in the Supreme Court’s verdict, and the papers in Imran Khan’s hand are key.