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Pakistan: Prime Minister’s fall, “disqualified” for corruption

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – AAMIR QURESHI – | Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 15 June 2017 in Islamabad

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday issued a ruling pronouncing the “disqualification” of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his de facto dismissal after a corruption case, opening a period of political uncertainty in the country.

Mr Sharif “is disqualified as a Member of Parliament and has therefore ceased to occupy the post of Prime Minister,” Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan told a crowd gathered at the seat of the Court to hear this highly anticipated ruling.

This decision follows the discovery by a Commission of Inquiry of a “significant disparity” between the income of the Sharif family and its lifestyle, which came to light last year in the context of the Panama Papers scandal.

Ⓒ AFP – AAMIR QURESHI – | Scenes of jubilation in the opposition after the “disqualification” of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his de facto removal following a corruption case, on July 28, 2017 in Islamabad

The Sharif are believed to have concealed the truth about companies and real estate held via offshore holdings, including luxury London apartments. Their proponents assure that the funds are legal and come from family businesses based in Pakistan and the Gulf.

Three of the four children of the head of the government are implicated, his sons Hasan and Hussein and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, hitherto regarded as his heiress in politics at one year of the next legislative elections.

The judgment, given at the end of the morning in an Islamabad placed under high security, immediately provoked scenes of jubilation of the supporters of the opposition descended in the street.

The ruling also directs the anti-corruption authority to launch a new investigation that could result in legal proceedings against the Sharif. Pakistani President Manmoon Hussain is responsible for “taking the necessary measures provided for in the Constitution to ensure the pursuit of democratic order”.

The Prime Minister’s party, the PML-N, confirmed shortly afterwards that Sharif had “left his post”. “We will study the decision in detail and develop a plan of action for the future,” added Maryam Aurangzeb, Minister of Information in Mr. Sharif’s government.

“Not a penny of corruption has been proven in this decision against Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistani people also know it,” she said. “God willing, Nawaz Sharif will be re-elected a fourth time,” she said.

– ‘History’ –

The scandal broke out last year when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published some 11.5 million secret documents from the panamaan law firm Mossack Fonseca, the Panama Papers.

For political analyst Farooq Moin, “the judgment can be described as historical insofar as it concerns a head of the government in office and his family”.

The immediate future seems to remain unclear, he said. “I think there is a good chance that PML-N’s party (of Sharif) will form a new government with a new prime minister, with the support Of its coalition partners, since they still have a majority in Parliament. ”

However, the PML-N has no designated successor at this time. The next legislative elections are theoretically scheduled in 2018.

The “Punjab lion” has thus completed none of his three terms as head of government. He had already been forced to resign because of allegations of corruption in 1993. His second term, which began in 1997, also came to a sudden end in 1999 following a military coup and Sharif had been forced into several Years of exile in Saudi Arabia.

This is the second time in the history of Pakistan that a Prime Minister in office is dismissed by a Supreme Court intervention, the first time dating back to 2012.

– The opposition to angels –

Dozens of supporters of Pakistani opponent Imran Khan, a former cricket star in the offensive against Sharif, took to the streets in angels, making signs of victory and shouting “Go Nawaz “Or” Nawaz is a thief “.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, vice-president of the PTI, Mr. Khan’s party, told the press that “today the Supreme Court has written a new historical page. I want to thank the judges on behalf of the Pakistani people because they Have made the impossible possible “.

Conversely, in Lahore, the stronghold of the Sharif family, demonstrators protested against the sentence, blocking the streets and burning tires.

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