Pakistan Supreme Court Disqualifies PM Nawaz Sharif in Panama Papers Case

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looks out the window of his plane after attending a ceremony to inaugurate the M9 motorway between Karachi and Hyderabad, Pakistan February 3, 2017. Picture taken February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

The Supreme Court of Pakistan today disqualified Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a member of the National Assembly in Panama Papers leak case. He has been found guilty of corruption. In a unanimous verdict, the five-judge bench said,Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is no more Sadiq and Ameen (honest and righteous). The Supreme Court also disqualified Finance Minister Ishaq Dar from office.

Following the Supreme Court judgment, Nawaz Sharif has resigned from his post.

Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif are the new contenders for the post of Pakistan Prime Minister.

Ishaq Dar, who was Sharif’s former accountant, had submitted documents to the Supreme Court about how the Sharif family obtained their wealth that included a portfolio of upscale London properties. Dar has been considered one of the most influential people in Sharif’s cabinet.

“He is no more eligible to be an honest member of the parliament, and he ceases to be holding the office of prime minister,” Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court. His ruling PML-N party will have to name a replacement.

The apex court further said that Nawaz Sharif didn’t submit valid asset details in 2013 general elections. Domestic media reported a criminal investigation would also be launched against the premier and his family. The Supreme Court ordered the National Accountability Bureau to file case against Sharif and his children within six weeks.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who headed the implementation bench, said that cases should be opened against Maryam Nawaz (Sharif’s daughter), Captain Muhammad Safdar (Maryam’s husband), Hassan and Hussain Nawaz (PM Sharif’s sons) as well as Prime Minister Sharif and a judgement should be announced within 30 days.

The controversy erupted last year with the publication of 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca documenting the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful. At the heart of the case is the legitimacy of the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies.

Sharif has always denied any wrongdoing and has dismissed the investigation into him as biased and inaccurate. Sharif’s allies have alleged there was a conspiracy to unseat him. The PML-N insists the wealth was acquired legally, through Sharif family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.

“This is not accountability, it is revenge,” tweeted Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq hours before the verdict was announced. “In an effort dislodge us, the democratic system has been made a target.”

Sharif’s two previous stints in power were also cut short, including by a military coup in 1999, but he came back from exile to win a resounding victory in the 2013 general elections.

The benchmark stock index tumbled 3.4% after the announcement but then regained some ground. The index, which was one of the world’s best performing in 2016, recorded major outflows during the two-month investigation into Sharif. The rupee currency, which is part of a managed float, has largely been stable.



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