Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quit on Friday after the Supreme Court disqualified him from the post because of corruption charges against him and his family in the Panama Papers case. He was disqualified from holding office for life, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf said.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has also been disqualified. Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz, who was touted to be his successor, will not be allowed to contest elections.
It was a unanimous decision by the five-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising justices Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Asif Saeed Khosa, Ijazul Ahsan and Gulzar Ahmed.
Disqualifying the prime minister from holding office, the judges said Sharif had been dishonest to Parliament and the courts and was not fit to hold the position. The top court has ordered for the corruption case against Sharif to be referred to the National Accountability Bureau.
While announcing the verdict, Justice Khan said that all evidence collected by the Joint Investigation Team looking into the Panama Papers case against Sharif and his family should be sent to the NAB within six weeks, Dawn reported. The bench called for cases against Sharif and his children and for a verdict to be announced in the matter within 30 days. Justice Khan said one judge will monitor the implementation of this order.
Elections next year
His party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), said it would contest the Supreme Court verdict, and that he would not be out of politics permanently. They have not yet announced who will succeed him. The landmark judgment came as a massive blow to the ruling party the year before elections are due.
It’s a historic day: Pervez Musharraf
Former president Pervez Musharraf expressed happiness over the apex court’s verdict and congratulated the people of Pakistan, reported The Express Tribune. Musharraf said the verdict would have a positive effect on the country and also gave credit to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chief Imran Khan for Sharif’s ouster.
“I think it is a very good decision,” said Musharraf. “The entire nation is jubilant. Sweets are being distributed everywhere. It is a historic day.”
The Panama Papers case
The Supreme Court had set up the Joint Investigation Team after Sharif was named in the Panama Papers leak in 2016. The leaked documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca had revealed that three of his children – his sons Hassan and Hussain Sharif and his daughter Maryam Sharif – owned offshore companies and undisclosed assets, including four expensive flats in Park Lane, London.
The bench had begun its hearing in the corruption case against Sharif on July 17. It had heard arguments from lawyers of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Awami Muslim League politician Sheikh Rashid. The court had concluded the hearing on July 21, and reserved its judgement.
The panel had said it had found significant disparities between Sharif’s and his family’s income and their actual wealth, and recommended filing a corruption case against them. The family members implicated include Sharif’s
Sharif continues to retain the status of a billionaire. His declared assets stood at at 1.84 billion Pakistani rupees (Rs 1.13 billion) in 2016.