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Supreme Court rules Pakistani Prime Minister is barred from holding office

The ruling is linked to last year’s Panama Paper leaks, which implicated Nawaz Sharif’s family.

This is the third time Nawaz Sharif has been removed from office.
This is the third time Nawaz Sharif has been removed from office.
Image: B.K. Bangash AP/PA Images

PAKISTAN’S SUPREME COURT has disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over long-running corruption allegations, a decision that forces him out of office.

“He is disqualified as a member of the parliament so he has ceased to be holding the office of Prime Minister,” Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan told the packed courtroom.

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 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.

No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed 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, forced to resign – or been assassinated.

It is the second time in Pakistan’s 70-year history that the Supreme Court has disqualified a sitting prime minister.

In 2012, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was disqualified over contempt of court charges for refusing to reopen a corruption case against the sitting president Asif Ali Zardari.

The Supreme Court’s unceremonious end to Sharif’s tenure represents a record third time he has been ousted as leader before completing his term.

In 1993 he was sacked by the president of the time over graft allegations, while in 1999 he was ousted in a military coup.

© – AFP, 2017

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