Islamabad, Pakistan. July 28: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Panama Papers case related to the allegations against the Sharif family for their alleged money laundering and establishing properties abroad.
The Court also referred the graft case to Accountability Court. The bench also ordered the National Accountability Bureau to wrap up the case in six weeks.
Five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and including Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsen, announced the judgment. It was an unanimous decision by all the five judges.
The court, in its verdict directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to issue disqualification notification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with immediate effect.
The landmark verdict was announced in Courtroom 1 of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The apex court also disqualified Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and MNA Captain (retd) Safdar, the husband of PM’s daughter Maryam Nawaz.
It was also ordered to file reference against Hasan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, and Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar.
A three-member special implementation bench on the Panama verdict, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsen on July 21, had reserved the judgment with the ruling to look into the matter of disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying that fundamental rights of both the petitioners and respondents would be fully protected.
Hearing the Panama Papers case since January year, the five-judge Supreme Court bench delivered its much-anticipated order in the case on April 20.
In a 3-2 split decision, the judgment on April 20.
In a 3-2 split decision, the majority judges determined that the available evidence was insufficient to disqualify the prime minister outright and directed for the formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the case and collect evidence, if any, showing that Nawaz Sharif or any of his dependents or benamidar owns, possesses or acquired assets or any interest therein disproportionate to their known means of income.
Two judges — Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed — had recommended disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The court had directed Nawaz Sharif, his sons, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz, respondents No 1, 7 and 8 to appear and associate themselves with the JIT as and when required.
Later on, a six-member JIT was formed by the implementation bench on Panama verdict which included Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director General Wajid Zia, Military Intelligence’s Brigadier Kamran Khurshid, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Director Irfan Naeem Mangi, State Bank of Pakistan’s Amer Aziz, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Executive Director Bilal Rasool and Inter-Services Intelligence’s Brigadier Muhammad Nauman Saeed.
The JIT members during the seven-week period interrogated eight members of Sharif family including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, daughter Maryam Nawaz, son-in-law Captain Safdar, cousin Tariq Shafi, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Chairman NAB etc and submitted its report on July 10.
In its report, the JIT on July 10 found the family of living beyond means, concealment of facts and being beneficial owners of multiple offshore companies and recommended initiation of reference against the PM and members of the ruling family in the NAB.
The report highlighted the failure of the Sharif family to provide a money trail for its London apartments and claimed the prime minister and his children own assets beyond their known sources of income.
The controversy erupted last year with the publication of 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca documenting the offshore dealings of many of the world´s rich and powerful.
Three of Sharif´s four children — Maryam, his presumptive political heir, and his sons Hasan and Hussein — were implicated in the papers.
At the heart of the case is the legitimacy of the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies.
The PML-N insists the wealth was acquired legally, through Sharif family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.
The push against Sharif has been spearheaded by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Imran Khan, who said Sharif has lost “moral authority”.
Sharif has been ousted by graft allegations once before, sacked by the country´s then-president during the first of his three terms as prime minister in 1993.
Precedent for Court
There is precedent for the Supreme Court to oust a sitting prime minister: in 2012 then-premier Yousaf Raza Gilani was disqualified over contempt of court charges for refusing to reopen a corruption case against president Asif Ali Zardari.
Before today’s judgement an elected Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raza Pervaiz Ashraf — all belong to Pakistan People’s Party—had faced the court in person.
Next Prime Minister
Sharif has not yet completed a term as prime minister, having been removed in his second term by a military coup in 1999.
PML-N currently has no clear successor in place. Daughter Maryam Nawaz does not hold public office, while his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the current chief minister of Punjab province, holds only a provincial seat.
There are speculations in case PM Nawaz was disqualified by the court, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif will be made interim PM and later, Shahbaz Sharif will be elected as the Premier.
The capital administration made special security arrangements for the Supreme Court.
Rangers, Frontier Corpse and police were deployed outside Supreme Court building, a spokesman for the capital police said.
Around 3,000 armed police and paramilitary forces were deployed both inside and around the court in Islamabad ahead of the ruling.
Traffic jams were forming early in the capital as commuters found their morning journey interrupted by security forces.
Via The international News