Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stepped down after he got an unfavourable verdict from the country’s top court in the Panama Papers scandal. The Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified him from holding public office and said it would order an accountability court to open references against him and his family. Meanwhile, as per reports in the Express Tribune, speculation within the media indicates that the ruling PML(N) is planning to bring in an interim prime minister for a few weeks before electing Nawaz’s younger brother Shehbaz Sharif to the post.
The 2016 Panama Papers leak showed that Sharif and his family had allegedly indulged in money laundering to buy expensive assets in London in the 90s through offshore companies. The investigation was carried out by multiple news organisations, including the Indian Express, after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) shared files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records had been obtained from an anonymous source by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Also Read: Timeline of events leading up to Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s ouster
So what happened today?
1. The top court has disqualified Sharif from holding public office, bringing his term to an unceremonious end less than a year away from the country’s general elections in 2018. This is the third time that Sharif has fallen short of completing a five-year term. In fact, no civilian prime minister of Pakistan has had a complete five-year term.
2. Among the five-judge bench, two judges were earlier in favour of Sharif’s disqualification. Today, the ruling was unanimous with all judges asking him to step down. They ruled that he had been dishonest to Parliament and the courts.
3. The court has ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to de-notify Sharif from his National Assembly seat, Dawn reported. The PM had reportedly not mentioned his role in a Dubai-based company in his nomination papers.
4. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar, who is a Member of the National Assembly (MNA), also stood disqualified from office, the court ruled.
5. The court ordered the National Accountability Court to begin a corruption case against Sharif and his family. The cases should be registered in six weeks and the trial should be completed in six months, the court said.
6. In May, the Supreme Court had appointed a Joint Investigation Team to investigate the charges against Sharif and his family. The JIT submitted its report on July 10.
7. The Supreme Court took up the case on November 3 last year and held 35 hearings spanning over more than 132 hours before concluding the proceedings on February 23.
8. Today, the court, which announced its verdict post 12 noon, was filled to capacity as politicians, lawyers and journalists crowded to hear what it had to say. The court premises were also put on high security alert.
9. Both Islamabad and Rawalpindi were put on high alert as personnel in riot gear roamed the streets so as to avert any possible disturbances. Opposition leaders were expected to hit the streets to celebrate the judgement.
10. “It’s a historic day, let’s strengthen Pakistan, let’s get rid of terrorism from the country. Let us take this moment to express gratitude to the armed forces, police and other law enforcement agencies. We should also thank the JIT members for not succumbing to the enormous pressure and serving the cause of justice,” said PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
11. As per reports in the Express Tribune, speculation within the media indicates that the ruling PML(N) is planning to bring in an interim prime minister for a few weeks before electing Nawaz’s younger brother Shehbaz Sharif to the post.