Pakistan goes sans Sharif: THIS is what will happen to Nawaz after Panama Papers case verdict

Nawaz Sharif disqualified: Pakistan top court found Sharif guilty and observed the premier had lied under oath to the country’s Parliament as well as the Supreme Court.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif disqualified by Supreme Court to hold the post. (AP file Photo)

Nawaz Sharif disqualified: In a landmark verdict in Panama Papers case today, the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The top court found Sharif guilty and observed the premier had lied under oath to the country’s Parliament as well as the Supreme Court. The much awaited judgement to disqualify Sharif from holding his office was unanimous. According to Pakistani’s, the judges ruled that Sharif was “dishonest to Parliament and the courts and could not be deemed fit for his office.”

While Sharif has lost the PM’s post, he will have to wait for a month for the punishment to be decided by the court. The verdict has, however, effectively ended his political career.

Pakistan Supreme Court justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said the bench has recommended to send all materials collected by JIT to an accountability court within six weeks. Moreover, cases would now be opened against all guilty persons — Captain Muhammad Safdar, Maryam Sharif (daugther of the ousted PM), Hassan and Hussain Nawaz as well as Nawaz Sharif, the Dawn reported.

The final judgement is expected within 30 days. With the removal of Nawaz, ruling PML-N would have to select a new leader. Nawaz’s brother and Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif is one of the leading contenders to take the chair of Nawaz.

The legal proceedings against Sharif had captivated the nuclear-armed country, where politicians are rarely subjected to the kind of scrutiny undergone by Sharif. The SC judgement today has also raised concerns about Pakistan’s fragile democracy as no prime minister has completed a full term in power since independence from British colonial rule in 1947. Interestingly, Nawaz served as Pakistan PM foe three terms but coudn’t last for more than three years in any term.

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The Panama Papers case against Sharif (67) is related to alleged money laundering by the Pakistan PM in 1990s, when he twice served as prime minister, to purchase assets in London. The assets allegedly purchased by Sharif surfaced when Panama Papers leak last year by a consortium of international journalists, including The Indian Express, revealed the assets allegedly purchased by Sharif were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.

Pakistan Supreme Court first took up the case in October last year on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Muslim League, and Jamaat-e-Islami and reserved the verdict in February after conducting hearings on a daily basis. The Supreme Court of Pakistan set up a six-member joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate the charges against Sharif and his family in May this year. The JIT submitted its report to the court on July 10.

According to PTI, the six-member JIT was set up with a mandate to probe the Sharif family for allegedly failing to provide the trail of money used to buy properties in London in the 1990s.

The JIT report noted that lifestyle of Sharif and his children were beyond their known sources of income and recommended the filing of a new corruption case against them. Sharif had, however, dismissed the report as a “bundle of baseless allegations” and refused to quit, even as demand for this increased from several quarters, including opposition political parties.

On July 21, the SC had reserved its verdict after concluding the hearing.

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First published on: 28-07-2017 at 13:53 IST