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Above: The Supreme Court of Pakistan said that Nawaz Sharif was unfit to hold office, as he had been dishonest to Parliament. Photo: UNI

Wonder if this would ever be possible in multiple scam-tainted India. The Pakistani Supreme Court on Friday (July 28) dealt a huge blow to the entire civilian dispensation of the country by disqualifying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office. This landmark judgement came from the Panama Papers case probe.

Sharif has tendered his resignation.

Pakistan’s leading newspaper Dawn reported that this was the third time the prime minister has been unable to complete his term. The daily says: “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.”

However, there is talk that his brother, Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif will get the job, but he has the task of winning a national assembly seat to be elected as the next leader.

The court has also ordered the case against Sharif to be referred to the NAB (National Accountability Bureau), said Justice Khan. That will continue as a criminal case, looking into the massive corruption charges levelled against him. The charges against Sharif include money laundering to buy assets in London in the 1990s.

The 2016 Panama Papers leak revealed that the assets were being managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.

Opponents of Nawaz Sharif shout slogans as they exit the Supreme Court in Islamabad. Photo UNI
Opponents of Nawaz Sharif shout slogans as they exit the Supreme Court in Islamabad. Photo UNI

The court has taken pro-active steps and asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to de-notify the prime minister to fulfil the technicalities of implementing the order. The court order said that the ECP should de-seat the PM for not disclosing his role in the Dubai-based Capital FZE Company in his nomination papers.

It is not clear how this development would affect India’s relations with Pakistan. Tensions have remained high between the two countries with continual cross-border firings and terrorist infiltrations. Fears of another army takeover of the country are not unfounded and that could totally alter, even harm the negotiations that have been gone through so far in an effort to deescalate tensions. 

Dawn reports: “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 deemed PM Sharif unfit for holding office and would also order an accountability court to open references against him and his family.”

The historic judgment, delivered a little after mid-day Pakistan time, said the prime minister was unfit to hold office, because he had been dishonest to parliament.

There are more in the investigation net, apart from the prime minister. They are finance minister Ishaq Dar; MNA Captain Muhammad Safdar; Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz.

Those judgments would be given within six months, Justice Khan said.

Meanwhile, the court also disqualified Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar. Dar was disqualified for being unable to explain ownership of assets disproportionate to his means.

There was a technical angle to this, however. While Sharif himself has resigned, the Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali clarified that the prime minister still holds the office, “and will continue to do so until the president asks him otherwise.” However, that might not be the case with the prime minister himself putting in his papers.

India Legal Bureau

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