Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who had headed the apex court’s implementation bench following its April 20 order on the Panama Papers case, announced that the larger bench had unanimously declared PM Sharif unfit for holding public office and would also order an accountability court to open references against him and his family, and other respondents. NAB will open reference in 6 days and should complete the case in 6 months, said the SC.
Shortly after the order, the PM House issued a notification saying that Nawaz Sharif, despite having “strong reservations” on the SC’s verdict, has stepped down from his post as the PM.
Reacting to the court’s order, a PML-N spokesperson said that the party will utilise all legal and constitutional means to contest the verdict.
The judgement brings Sharif’s third term in power to an unceremonious end, roughly one year before the scheduled general elections which would have seen him become the first Pakistani prime minister to complete a full five-year term. It is unclear at the moment who will be appointed to take over the post till the next general elections, which are scheduled for 2018.
No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full five-year term. Most have seen their tenures cut short by the military or interrupted from the Supreme Court. Others have been ousted by their own party, forced to resign – or been assassinated.
The panel investigated Sharif’s alleged links to offshore accounts and overseas properties owned by three of his children. The assets were not declared on his family’s wealth statement, but the Panama Papers leak in April 2016 revealed them. The huge cache of documents allegedly connected to a Panama law firm revealed the financial dealings of some of the world’s most well-known people.
Sharif was not named in the Panama Papers, but his three children were linked in the documents to offshore companies.
Revelations of his family’s finances that emerged in the Panama Papers leak led to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation after the country’s Supreme Court disqualified him in a corruption probe. The high court ruled that Sharif had been dishonest to Parliament and to the judicial system and was no longer considered fit for office.
Opposition on Panama Case Decision
Former cricket star Imran Khan, leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI, lobbied vigorously for Sharif’s investigation and described the court’s decision as a “Victory for the People.”
“Nations are not destroyed by wars, bombs or natural disasters. They are destroyed when their institutions have been destroyed,” Khan said. “This is the beginning. Now all of us have to protect our resources and not let the corrupt exploit them.”
But Pakistan’s minister of railways blamed the military for Sharif’s downfall.
“There has been an injustice against us,” said the minister, Khawaja Saad Rafique, who is a member of Sharif’s party. “We are very aware what the actual crime of the PM is. We want civil supremacy. We came into power through democratic means. We gave our lives to bring back democracy to this country. We gave power to these institutions. … We are being punished for this.”
References Against Sharif
The references to be filed by NAB before the accountability court include:
- References against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Hussain Nawaz Sharif, Hassan Nawaz Sharif, and Capt Muhammad Safdar relating to the Avenfield properties in London, United Kingdom.
- Reference against Nawaz Sharif, and Hussain and Hassan Nawaz regarding Azizia Steel Company and Hill Metal Establishment, along with other companies mentioned in paragraph 9 of the detailed judgement.
- Reference against Ishaq Dar for possessing assets and funds beyond his known means of income.
- Supplementary reference(s) if and when any other asset, which is not prima facie reasonably accounted for, is discovered.
A reference against him will also be opened for possessing assets and funds beyond his known sources of income.