Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigned on Friday after the country’s top court ruled him unfit for office for failing to disclose income and ordered a criminal investigation into his family over corruption allegations. The prime minister’s fall follows revelations in the so-called “Panama Papers” last year, which revealed Sharif’s family had bought posh London apartments through offshore companies.
Here’s a timeline:
* April 4, 2016 – The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism publishes the Panama Papers, exposing tax evasion by the world’s elite through off-shore accounts and shell companies. 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 documents include names of Sharif’s family. The Panama Papers show involvement of Sharif’s family in offshore companies.
* April 22, 2016 – Sharif asks the Supreme Court to form a commission to investigate the Panama leaks after pressure from the opposition. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan demands an independent probe by the high court itself. The court directed Sharif and his two sons – Hasan and Hussain – to appear before the JIT, which would consist of officers from different agencies. The investigative team has been given two months time to complete the probe into alleged corruption by the Sharif family.
* April 24, 2016 – Khan threatens protests against Sharif and says the prime minister had lost “moral authority” to rule. He said Sharif had no moral ground to sit in office since all the five judges of the apex court unanimously rejected the evidence as well as the Qatar prince’s letter produced to justify the money trail for the Sharifs’ alleged offshore assets. Referring to Zardari’s comments about him that he lacked political wisdom, Imran said the former President had turned the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) into a regional party from a national party. He said Zardari had ruled Sindh by fear and his rule would end soon.
* May 16, 2016 – Sharif proposes parliamentary commission probe into the scandal; opposition walks out. The opposition has seized on the Panama Papers scandal as a fresh opportunity to try to unseat Sharif, who told parliament that his wealth was acquired legally in the decades before he entered politics and no money was siphoned off-shore. “I can say with surety that … not a single penny went out of Pakistan,” Sharif told the parliament. Sharif asked the opposition and other lawmakers to help form a parliamentary commission.
* Oct. 28, 2016 – Khan accuses government of placing him under virtual house arrest; supporters fight police ahead of plan to shut down capital in protest. Pakistani opposition leader Imran Khan accused the government of placing him under virtual house arrest in Islamabad as his supporters in nearby Rawalpindi fought running battles with the police. Police also fired tear gas and briefly clashed with protesters near Khan’s house in Islamabad. Imran Khan said he had cancelled plans to attend a rally by a political ally in Rawalpindi and urged supporters to instead focus on the mass protests.
* Nov. 1, 2016 – Khan backs down from a threat to paralyse capital with a “lockdown” after violence breaks out with many of his supporters injured and the Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments to form a commission to investigate Sharif. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been under growing pressure from opposition parties, which had vowed one million supporters would shut down Islamabad as part of long-running efforts to force the government out of power. “On the Supreme Court’s advice, we have decided that tomorrow we will thank God and celebrate a Day of Thanks at Islamabad’s parade ground,” Imran said while addressing the media outside his home in Bani Gala.
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