Nawaz Sharif resigns as Pakistan PM after SC order

RSTV Bureau

File photo of Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif resigned as Pakistan Prime Minister immediately after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office and ordered corruption cases to be filed against him and his children in connection with the Panama Papers scandal.

The court disqualified Sharif under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution. The articles state that a member of Parliament should be “truthful” and “righteous”.

“He is disqualified as a member of the parliament so he has ceased to be holding the office of Prime Minister,” Justice  Ejaz Afzal Khan said. The court ordered the Election Commission to issue a notification for Sharif’s disqualification.

The court also ordered the National Accountability Court to start a corruption case against Sharif, his children – Hussain and Hassan – and his daughter Maryam. The order also said that the cases against them should be registered within six weeks and trial must be completed within six months.

The Panama Papers leaks revealed alleged money laundering by Sharif in 1990s, when he twice served as prime minister, to purchase assets in London. The assets surfaced when Panama Papers, that were leaked last year, revealed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Captain Muhammad Safdar, who is an Member of National Assembly (MNA), also stood disqualified from office, Radio Pakistan reported.

As the five-judge bench of the SC passed a unanimous verdict indicting Sharif, opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers celebrated outside the court.

It is the third time Sharif’s term as premier has been cut short.

Former information minister Marryium Aurangzeb said that PML-N was still the largest party of Pakistan and expressed confidence that people would bring back Sharif with bigger majority.

“There is no charge of corruption of public money against Sharif,” she added.

In May, the Supreme Court had set up a six-member joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate the charges against Sharif and his family. The JIT submitted its report to the court on July 10.

The six-member JIT was set up with a mandate to probe the Sharif family for allegedly failing to provide the trail of money used to buy properties in London in the 1990s.

It said the lifestyle of Sharif and his children was beyond their known sources of income, and recommended filing of a new corruption case against them.

Sharif dismissed the report as a “bundle of baseless allegations” and refused to quit, despite demands to do so from several quarters, including opposition political parties.

On July 21, the court reserved its verdict after concluding the hearing.

The top court had taken up the case in October last year on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Muslim League and Jamaat-e-Islami and reserved the verdict in February after conducting hearings on a daily basis.

It is the second time in Pakistan’s 70-year history that the Supreme Court has disqualified a sitting prime minister. In 2012, then-prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was disqualified over contempt of court charges for refusing to reopen a graft case against then president Asif Ali Zardari.

A steel tycoon-cum-politician, Sharif had served as the Pakistan’s prime minister for the first time from 1990 to 1993. His second term from 1997 was ended in 1999 by Army chief Pervez Musharraf in a coup.

(With inputs from agencies)