A day after Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding public office, the country’s newspapers front pages were emblazoned with the headlines of the country’s prime minister having to step down and his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif to fill his shoes. He stepped down from the office after the Supreme Court asked a court to file corruption cases against him and his family. The Panama Papers Investigation had revealed over 15 months ago that three out of four offshore companies set up by his children in the British Virgin Islands owned at least six upscale properties overlooking London’s Hyde Park.
Pakistan’s oldest English newspaper Dawn carried the lead headline “Yet another prime minister comes to grief” with a picture of Sharif sharing a light moment with Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (F) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders Raja Zafarul Haq and Rafiq Rajwana. The lead story carried details on the verdict announced by the Pakistan SC and the developments of the proceedings. The opening paragraph said “The all-powerful Sharif family, which has ruled the country for the past several decades, suffered a major setback on Friday after the Supreme Court declared that thrice-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was “not honest” and disqualified him as a member of parliament.’ The report then goes on to list the proceedings in the courtroom and the atmosphere while the judgement was being given. It also gave details on the verdict pronounced by the apex court.
The second story gave details on the nomination of Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz Sharif as the next PM of the country by the “top leadership” of PML-N with the headline ‘Nawaz out, Shahbaz in’. It gave details on the meeting of the PML-N party senior leaders at the PM House and stated that Nawaz Sharif proposed the name of Shahbaz as his choice for the next PM. It also said that the party is expected to announce their pick for the interim prime minister on Saturday.
The third report, with the headline ‘Opposition overjoyed at SC ruling’ listed the Opposition’s reaction on the decision. The article quoted Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf ‘s (PTI) chairman Imran Khan. The front page also carried an analysis of the political scenario in Pakistan, keeping Nawaz Sharif and PML-N as its focus, with the headline ‘A Catastrophic Miscalculation’.
The Lahore-based English daily The Nation, in its Islamabad edition, had the words ‘Third forced exit’ in bold letters, with ‘Knocked down on a technicality’ written over it. It carried a picture of Sharif. The main report gave details on the court proceedings and the verdict. Another report titled ‘Three terms, three tragedies’ gave details on the former PM’s political career and how he hasn’t been able to complete a single one of his three terms as the PM of the country, despite being an important political figure in the nation’s history.
The paper also carried a report on Shahbaz Sharif with the headline ‘Shehbaz to be next PM’ and a piece titled ‘Nawaz is out but Sharifs to survive’ on the political future of PML-N. ‘While Sharif remains disqualified to hold public office in the foreseeable future, it remains to be seen how much damage has been done to the political entity that is Nawaz and its political representation, the PML-N,’ it said.
The Express Tribune
The Express Tribune had a picture of Nawaz Sharif’s back with the headline ‘PM sent packing’ as the lead story. It also carried pictures of PML-N members protesting against the verdict and lawyers celebrating the decision by offering prayers, juxtaposed with each other. The story on the Opposition’s reaction carried the headline ‘Imran Khan sees dawn of ‘Naya Pakistan”, while ‘Shehbaz set to step into Nawaz’s shoes’ reported on Shebaz’s nomination. It also carried a story on Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Zardari Bhutto announcing that his party will also field a prime-ministerial candidate against Shahbaz, in consultation with the other Opposition parties. The article was titled ‘Bilawal vows no walkover for PML-N candidate’