News ID: 197469
Published: 0849 GMT July 28, 2017

Pakistan PM Sharif ousted in wealth probe

Pakistan PM Sharif ousted in wealth probe
AP

Pakistan's Supreme Court 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.

Sharif swiftly resigned but in a statement his spokesman said 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, Reuters reported.

Sharif's ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, which won a majority in Parliament in 2013, is expected to name a new prime minister to hold office until elections due next year.

Among allies mooted to replace Sharif are Defense Minister Asif Khawaja, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Petroleum Minister Shahid Abbasi.

The ouster of Sharif, 67, who has now served as premier on three separate occasions, also raises questions about Pakistan's fragile democracy. No prime minister has completed a full term in power since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

The court verdict marks a major political victory for opposition leader Imran Khan, a former cricket star who last year threatened mass street protests unless Sharif's wealth was investigated. Khan had pounced on the leaking of the Panama Papers, which revealed Sharif's family had bought posh London apartments through offshore companies.

The court also ordered a criminal investigation into the assets of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, one of Sharif's closest allies, who has been credited with steering the economy to its fastest pace of growth in a decade. Earlier state-run TV and other media reported Dar had been disqualified.

Sharif has alleged a conspiracy against him, although he has not named anyone. His allies, however, have privately spoken of elements in the judiciary and the military, with whom Sharif has strained relations, acting against him.

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 said Sharif failed to declare income from a company in the United Arab Emirates ahead of his election in 2013.

Prior to the decision, several cabinet ministers, including Sharif's closest allies, said the ruling party would respect the verdict.

 

   
KeyWords
 
Comments
Comment
Name:
Email:
Comment:
Security Key:
Captcha refresh
Page Generated in 0/1640 sec