Nawaz Sharif steps down as Pakistan’s Prime Minister after being sacked by the Supreme Court
ISLAMABAD -– Pakistan’s Supreme Court has disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office on Friday over undeclared assets, plunging the nuclear-armed South Asian nation into political turmoil after a period of relative stability.
In his response to the disqualification, Sharif, 67, swiftly stepped down – though, according to his spokesman, with a claim that there were “serious reservations” about the judicial process after the court ordered a criminal probe into his family over corruption allegations stemming from the “Panama Papers” leaks of international offshore companies.
The five-judge panel acted on petitions filed by Sharif’s political opponents alleging that he and his family failed to disclose assets stemming from last year’s “Panama Papers” leaks. The court ordered that criminal charges be filed against Sharif and four relatives.
In a unanimous decision, the court said he had not been “truthful and honest,” and it also dismissed him from the National Assembly — the lower house of Parliament.
The court asked Pakistan’s figurehead President Mamnoon Hussain to “ensure continuation of the democratic process.” He is expected to convene the National Assembly once Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League party, which won a majority in parliament in 2013, nominates a new prime minister to hold office until elections due next year.
Among allies mooted to replace Sharif are Defence Minister Asif Khawaja, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Petroleum Minister Shahid Abbasi.
Sharif’s political opponents, however, danced in the streets and opposition leader Imran Khan urged them to gather Sunday in the capital of Islamabad to celebrate their legal victory against the “corrupt ruling elite.”
“Today the people of Pakistan got real justice, a new chapter has begun,” Jehangir Khan Tareen, a member of Khan’s opposition PTI party, said outside the court.
The former cricket star, Khan, at a news conference described the disqualification as a “good omen” for Pakistan. He further said that he hopes all those who “looted” the nation’s wealth would face a similar fate.
The Supreme Court’s five-member panel ruled unanimously that Sharif should be disqualified after an investigative team alleged his family could not account for its vast wealth.
“He is no more eligible to be an honest member of the parliament, and he ceases to be holding the office of prime minister,” Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court.
The court enacted little-used Article 62 of the Constitution, which allows disqualification of any lawmaker found to be dishonest. The court said Sharif failed to declare income from a company in United Arab Emirates ahead of his election in 2013.
According to 1310News, Hashmat Habib, a legal expert, said the court’s order was final and that Sharif and his family could not appeal.
It was also reported that Zafar Ullah, a senior leader from Sharif’s ruling party, said he did not know whether it was “an irony of history or it was because of some conspiracy,” but no elected prime minister has served a full term in Pakistan.
It was the second time Pakistan’s Supreme Court has disqualified a prime minister. In 2012, the court found Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani guilty of contempt and ordered him to step down.
MCR Correspondent in the region gathered that Nawaz is supported mostly by women as his government favored them more than it did for men. This reflects in Pakistanis’ reactions after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court.