ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday ruled there was insufficient evidence to order Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s removal from office over corruption allegations levelled by the opposition, but it ordered further investigations.
Two of five judges on the court bench recommended Sharif should step down, saying he was dishonest “to the nation as well as to the parliament,” but they were out voted.
Presenting its 549-page judgment amid tight security in the capital Islamabad, the court ordered a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) be formed to look into allegations around three of Sharif’s four children using offshore companies to buy properties in London.
The team has two months to complete its inquiry, after which a special bench will decide what action to take, the court said in a ruling that opens with the epigraph from Mario Puzo’s novel The Godfather: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”
Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chief Asif Zardari demanded of Sharif to hand in his resignation in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment in the Panama case.
Zardari condemned the court decision and said that the premier failed. “You cannot run the government. Give someone else a chance to run it.” During a chat with reporters, Imran urged the premier to resign for the duration of an investigation into how the Sharif family’s money was transferred to a Gulf country.
“I demand Sharif resign until the JIT completes its probe. If you’re cleared within 60 days, you can return.”
The PTI chairman congratulated the nation on the “historic” ruling. “This has never happened in the history of Pakistan.
Sharif’s daughter and his presumptive political heir, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, posted a photo on Twitter of the family welcoming the court’s decision.
Sharif hugged and embraced his brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and other party leaders at the prime minister’s house where they heard the decision together.