MOHAMMED RIZWAN | 28 JULY, 2017
Pakistan’s Supreme Court today found Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif guilty of corruption and corrupt practices and sacked him.
The apex court disqualified Sharif from a public office. This, in effect, removes him immediately as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar who is related to Sharif, his son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar, his daughter and rising successor Maryam Nawaz were also found guilty of living beyond their means and were disqualified from holding public office.
Invoking Articles 62 and 63 of the constitution, the five member bench of the Supreme Court stated in the short order that the Prime Minister is no more an honest and truthful holder of the public office and should be removed from the National Assembly seat immediately.
The court also directed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to register corruption cases against Sharif, Dar, Maryam, Hussain Nawaz and Hasan Nawaz in six weeks and deliver verdict in six month time. A Supreme Court judge will oversee the implementation of the verdict.
The verdict followed a year of turmoil and political turbulence for Sharif and his party when the Supreme Court took up the so called Panama Case that unearthed three off-shore companies and ownership of four luxury London apartments that carried a price tag of six billion Pakistani rupees. Sharifès legal team failed to provide the money trail to buy off these expensive properties. The court had constituted a Joint Investigative Team that reported ther Sharif family failed to establish that the properties were bought with clean money.
The verdict today threw the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) in a tail-spin as, it seems, it was not ready for such a damning sentence and was found scrambling to nominate the interim prime minister who could steer the party and the government till the next elections due in May 2018. Prime Minister Sharif could have dissolved the assemblies and called for new elections before the Supreme Court announced the verdic but the court order blocked this move by removing and de-seating the Prime Minister with immediate effect and instructing the President to make sure the continuity of the political process.
Sharif huddled with the advisors and party stalwarts to discuss the appointment of the new Prime Minister amid clear signs that party is already in disarray, Close confidante and Minister of Interior Chaudhry Nisar who is considered very close to the Pakistan Army, has already started to distance himself from Sharif and the party by expressing reservation and concerns over the party leadership just a day before the verdict. Media reports say that Aviation Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Defence Minister Khwaja Asif are the front-runners for the slot.
It was the third term for Sharif that ended pre-maturely. But like two earlier times when Sharif was sacked by army unceremoniously, this time too, there are no signs of any popular agitation even in his home province of Punjab. Opposition leader and chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf Imran Khan who was petitioner in the case stands to gain most from the situation. His party is PML-Nès main rival in Punjab and in Pakistan who wins Punjab wins Islamabad. Khan is being seen as the victor of this four-year duel that started soon after the elections in May 2013.
(Mohammed Rizwan is a Pakistani journalist who has been closely following the Panama Case)