Five-member bench orders NAB to file references against PMLN leader and his family within six weeks
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, ousting him from office.
The unanimous ruling, read out by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, also directed the National Accountability Bureau to file corruption references against the Sharif family—Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain, his daughter Maryam and his son-in-law Captain Safdar—within six weeks. Additionally, the court has ordered corruption cases to be filed against finance minister Ishaq Dar.
Asif Khosa and Gulzar Ahmed had already declared that Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf should be disqualified in February. The remaining three judges had ruled that further investigation was required. On Friday, all five judges ruled that Sharif should be ousted from office under the controversial ‘sadiq’ and ‘ameen’ clauses of the Constitution of Pakistan. The judges ruled that Sharif had been dishonest before Parliament and the courts and was no longer fit for office.
Around 3,000 police and paramilitary forces were deployed around the court in Islamabad ahead of the ruling to prevent unrest, a police spokesman said.
The same bench had in April declared there was “insufficient evidence” to oust Sharif over graft allegations against his family and appointed a Joint Investigation Team composed of civilian and military officials to probe the provenance of their wealth. Earlier this month, the JIT submitted its report and claimed that it had found “significant disparity” between the Sharifs’ income and lifestyle. It also accused the Sharifs of submitting fraudulent documents in court—a claim that was seemingly accepted in court by the lawyer for Sharif’s sons, Hasan and Hussain.
The ruling PMLN had dismissed the investigation team’s report as “trash” and vowed that they would discredit it in court.
The core of the case revolves around the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies. The PMLN insists the wealth was acquired legally through family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf. However, they have been unable to establish the money trail and timeline before the JIT, which noted that there were gaps in the evidence provided by the family.
The push against Sharif has been spearheaded by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, who said Sharif has lost “moral authority.” Sensing the shifting tide, the Pakistan Peoples Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) have all joined him in slamming the Sharifs in recent months. Ahead of the Supreme Court judgment, the joint opposition had demanded Sharif step down in order to allow a fair and impartial investigation into his family’s wealth.
Sharif’s ouster leaves the ruling PMLN is a state of disarray as it does not have a clear successor in place. Daughter Maryam has now also been implicated in the Panama case, while brother Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of Punjab province, holds only a provincial seat.