Pakistan PM Sharif steps down after Supreme Court ruling
July 28 2017 10:35 AM
Nawaz Sharif
Nawaz Sharif has been Pakistan's Prime Minister thrice.

Agencies/Islamabad

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday ordered the removal of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a decision that could trigger political volatility in a country hit by Islamist militancy and economic instability.
Sharif stepped down immediately after the court said he was no more eligible to serve, his spokesman said.
He was expected to nominate his successor from his Pakistan Muslim League party, the spokesman said.
Sharif said he had several reservations about the way the trial was conducted that led to his disqualification but accepted the decision, a statement said.
The president is now expected to call a meeting of the National Assembly to choose the new prime minister, who would then select his new cabinet.
Sharif's party has a majority in parliament and the ousted premier is now expected to rule through a front man.
The five-member bench ordered the authorities to file criminal charges against Sharif, his two sons, a daughter, son-in-law and a party member. The trial should be complete within six months.
Sharif would not be allowed to become a member of Pakistan's parliament ever again, the court said in the decision.
The allegations are linked to one of Sharif's two stints in power in the 1990s.
His opponents accused him of laundering money from Pakistan and stashing the stolen wealth in offshore accounts.
The money was allegedly used to buy properties in London later.
Sharif denied the allegations.
Sharif, 67, came to power after his party's landslide victory in 2013.
His four-year rule saw improved security and economic stability in Pakistan because he backed the military to launch a massive offensive against Islamist militants near the Afghan border and stitched up a $60bn investment deal with China.
Experts believe a political upheaval at this stage might reverse the gains the 200mn-strong nation has achieved on both the security and economic fronts.
The decision brings to an unceremonious end Sharif's third term in power, roughly one year before scheduled general elections which would have seen him become the first Pakistani prime minister to complete a full five-year term.
Most have seen their tenures cut short by the powerful military or interference from the Supreme Court. Others have been ousted by their own party or forced to resign.
The court also asked the national anti-corruption bureau to launch a further probe into the allegations against Sharif, which stem from the Panama Papers leak last year linking the premier's family to lucrative offshore businesses.
The Supreme Court had in April declared there was "insufficient evidence" to oust Sharif over the graft allegations engulfing his family, and ordered an investigation team to probe the matter.



The Supreme Court building in Islamabad.

The team of civilian and military investigators found there was a "significant disparity" between the Sharif family's income and lifestyle in its report, which was released to the public and submitted to the court earlier this month.
The findings sparked an uproar, including the claim that documents regarding Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz and her link to some of the family's London properties were "falsified" -- dated 2006, but typed in Microsoft's Calibri font, which was not released for commercial use until 2007.
The Sharifs and their allies have consistently and noisily rejected the claims against them, with his ruling PML-N party this month dismissing the investigation team's report as "trash".
The push against Sharif has been spearheaded by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party.
"Today (the) Supreme Court has made a new history. I want to thank (the) judges on behalf of the people of Pakistan because they made the impossible possible," PTI vice president Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters outside the court.
The ruling PML-N party currently has no clear successor in place. 
Sharif's daughter Maryam is his presumptive political heir but does not hold public office, while his brother Shahbaz Sharif, the current chief minister of Punjab province, holds only a provincial seat.

Last updated: July 28 2017 01:44 PM


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