Nawaz Sharif Narrowly Escapes Disqualification as PM in Panama Papers Case

  • Nawaz Sharif Narrowly Escapes Disqualification as PM in Panama Papers Case

Nawaz Sharif Narrowly Escapes Disqualification as PM in Panama Papers Case

Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled that there is insufficient evidence of corruption to remove Sharif from office, but it has ordered further investigation into money transfers detailed in the Panama Papers.

The five-judge panel, formed by Pakistan's Supreme Court in November 2016 to investigate Sharif, delivered its ruling after two months of deliberation.

The corruption controversy erupted when the 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which documented the offshore dealings of numerous world's rich and powerful, were leaked previous year.

The names of Prime Minister Sharif's children appeared in the leaked documents linked to offshore accounts and the purchase of four luxury flats in Central London.

At the heart of the matter is the legitimacy of the funds used by Sharif's family to buy high-end London properties through offshore firms.

Naeem ul Haque, a spokesman for Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said he expected a verdict against Sharif, but he made clear the opposition would not launch a new street movement if they were disappointed.

"Whatever decision is taken by the court, Insha Allah would be better", Sharif was quoted by sources as saying. If, as the opposition claims, state institutions can be subordinate to the prime minister, their abject deference to the Army is just as relevant.

The JIT has been given two months to complete the probe.

About 500 security personnel were deployed in advance of Thursday's decision, with access to the Pakistan Supreme Court sealed except for those with special passes.

In the 547-page verdict, the bench said that the NAB Chairman has failed to cooperate with the investigation, and the DG FIA has failed to curb white collar crimes, necessitating the formulation of the JIT.

However, opponents of the prime minster point out that two out of the five judges did recommend Nawaz Sharif should be disqualified, and the other three all felt further investigation was needed.

Sharif's supporters hailed the decisions as a victory of justice.

The bench examined arguments presented by the PTI, the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the Watan Party and the All Pakistan Muslim League, which framed the case as a campaign against corruption and were pushing for Sharif's ouster.

Aurangzeb said the Supreme Court had rejected the prayers of the petitioners.

The worst April in history of the country was April 4, 1979 when former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged for criminal conspiracy to kill a leading politician.

The Supreme Court agreed to investigate Mr Sharif's offshore wealth late past year after opposition leader Imran Khan threatened street protests.