ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Friday quit as prime minister after the Supreme Court disqualified him over corruption charges.
The court had ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to de-notify Nawaz Sharif as member of the parliament. In a formal reaction to the court’s verdict, the spokesman for the ruling party Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party said that despite “serious reservations over the contents of the petition and different stages until the court’s verdict, it has been decided that the court verdict will be implemented.
“The Prime Minister Mr Nawaz Sharif immediately relinquished powers as prime minister,” the spokesman said in a statement issued by the PM’s office. The spokesman said “such precedents have been established during the court’s proceedings which had never been seen during 70 years.” The spokesman said that all legal and constitutional options will be used.
He said “all legal and constitutional requirements of fair trial have been badly trampled. Injustice has been done with us. History will make its own decision on this verdict. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will emerge victorious in the court of Allah Almighty and the people.” The court had also ordered the country’s anti-corruption bureau to start formal criminal proceedings against the PM, the country’s finance minister and two sons, daughter and son in law of the prime minister for allegedly concealing their property abroad.
Earlier the top court disqualified Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in a verdict in the Panama Papers case as an investigation team had claimed that the Prime Minister and some of his family members had been allegedly involved in money laundering and established properties abroad.
A five-member larger bench of Supreme Court in a unanimous decision also ordered the country’s anti-corruption body to formally register corruption case against the Prime Minister in 6 weeks and decide the case within 6 months.
The court also disqualified the country’s Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar and Captain (retd) Safdar, the husband of PM’s daughter Maryam Nawaz, according to the order. Safdar is member of the parliament. The apex court advised the President to take steps for the election of a new Prime Minister. The court ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to issue a notification and de-notify the Prime Minister from the seat of the National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Prime Minister has failed to reveal his assets and that he is no more a trusted man under the provisions in the country’s constitution. The Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf, the gov’t lawyer, told reporters that the court has disqualified Sharif forever. He says there is no law to appeal against this verdict. The court also ordered the accountability bureau to register cases against the PM’s sons – Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son in law captain (retired) Safdar.
In the government’s initial reaction, Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb described the verdict as “unfortunate” and said Nawaz Sharif will remain leader of the PML-N. She said the gov’t legal team is reviewing all aspects of the verdict. Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique has termed the Panama Papers a foreign conspiracy which targeted Nawaz Sharif, Russian President Vladimir Putin and former British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Opposition leaders including Imran Khan, chief of Tehrik-e-Insaf or Justice Movement had approached the court to investigate the assets of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members after the Panama Papers showed that three of Nawaz Sharif’s children were linked to offshore companies that owned properties in London.
The Panama Papers’ Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the Sharif family’s business dealings, had found “glaring disparities in the family’s known sources of income and their actual wealth” which it says the Sharif family was unable to substantiate.