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Prime Minister disqualified by Supreme Court in panama case

ISLAMABAD, JUL 28 (DNA) –Supreme court has announced its judgement by disqualifying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday in Panama case.

The five-judge larger bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan announced the decision in courtroom No 1.

The apex has also ordered to file reference in accountability court to investigate matter against Nawaz Sharif and his children. Court also ordered to file reference against Capt (retd) Safdar.

The decision had been reserved on July 21 after the three-member executionary bench comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Ejaz Afzal and Justice Ijaz ul-Hassan heard the arguments of both the parties on Joint Investigation Team and reserved the decision.

The court had in April declared there was “insufficient evidence” to oust Mr Sharif over the graft allegations engulfing his family, and ordered an investigation team to probe the matter.

The team of civilian and military investigators found there was a “significant disparity” between the Sharif family’s income and lifestyle in its report submitted to the court earlier this month.

The Sharifs and their allies have consistently rejected the claims, with his ruling PML-N party this month dismissing the investigation team’s report as “trash”.

The Supreme Court agreed last year to investigate the Sharif family s wealth after the opposition threatened protests after the leaking of the “Panama Papers”, which revealed his family had bought posh London apartments through offshore companies.

The Supreme Court ruled in April there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif from office – by a 2-3 verdict – but it ordered a probe by an investigative panel that included members of the military intelligence agencies.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) this month returned its findings in a 254-report that said Sharif s family assets do not match their earnings. The panel also accused his children, including heir apparent Maryam, of signing forged documents to obscure ownership of the London flats.

Bribery and other forms of graft are endemic in Pakistan, with the country coming in 116th place out of 176 countries ranked according to corruption by Transparency International in 2017.

Mr Sharif has been ousted by graft allegations once before, during the first of his three terms as Prime Minister in 1993.
He has not yet completed a term as Prime Minister, having been toppled in his second term by a military coup in 1999.
The allegations are a blow to his credibility ahead of general elections due to be held by next year, and as the civilian government appears to have reached an uneasy detente with the military, which has ruled Pakistan for half of its existence.
His party currently has no clear successor in place. Daughter Maryam does not hold public office, while his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the current chief minister of Punjab province, holds only a provincial seat. =DNA

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