Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified by a five-judge bench of Pakistan Supreme Court on Friday. The judges noted that the Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader had been dishonest to parliament and hence could not be deemed fit for office. Nawaz Sharif’s involvement in the Panama scandal was first broken by The Indian Express. Click here to read the story. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar were also declared unfit for office.
The Panama Papers investigation was carried out by multiple news organisations, including The Indian Express, after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) received files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. Sharif is also the second prime minister who stepped aside after the Panama leak. Former prime minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson had been the first leader to step down amid public outrage for stashing money abroad.
In the past, Sharif has twice been ousted from the prime minister’s office before the completion of his tenure.
First stint as PM (1990-1993)
Nawaz Sharif’s first term as the prime minister of Pakistan ended after he engaged in an embittered battle with the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Using his reserve powers as per Article 58(2b) of the Pakistan Constitution, Khan had dissolved the National Assembly and appointed Mir Balakh Scher as the interim PM. Sharif refused to accept the move and moved the Supreme Court, which ultimately overturned the president’s call. However, Sharif resigned nearly two months later after he was pressured by the Pakistan Armed Forces. President Ghulam Ishaq Khan was also removed.
Second stint as PM (1997-1999)
After the Benazir Bhutto administration was riddled with corruption allegations, Nawaz Sharif rose to power again in 1997 when Pakistan was plagued with an economic crisis. This time around, Sharif secured a massive win with PML(N)’s landslide victory. It was under him that Pakistan conducted its first nuclear tests in 1998 which increased Sharif’s popularity. Following Pakistan’s Kargil debacle in 1999, Sharif had a serious confrontation with the Pakistani military. Due to conflicts with India and Afghanistan and economic crisis, Sharif’s popularity went down among the masses.
In 1999, General Pervez Musharraf overthrew Sharif’s regime in a military coup. Later, Sharif was even convicted by a military court “kidnapping, attempted murder, hijacking and terrorism and corruption.” The military avoided death penalty for Sharif amid pressure by the then US President Bill Clinton and Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd.