Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif has been disqualified from his role as Prime Minister after the country’s Supreme Court ruled on a corruption probe. Following the 2015 Panama Papers leaks, Sharif and his children were linked to offshore companies after a probe into his family’s finances failed to account for their wealth.
While Sharif consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case, five judges unanimously declared that that “Sharif had been dishonest to Parliament and to the judicial system and was no longer deemed fit for office,” according to CNN. “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.
Following the verdict, a spokesman for Sharif’s office said that while Nawaz Sharif had “serious reservations” about the decision, he “divested himself of his responsibility as prime minister.” The court also dismissed one of Sharif’s closest allies and Islamabad’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
The Panama Papers leaks in 2015 and 2016 revealed that Sharif’s children owned offshore companies and assets. The offshore companies were alleged to have been used to acquire foreign assets, including apartments in London. Sharif claimed that the assets were legally held by his children, making him not responsible for declaring them. However, the failure to meet the court’s demand to establish a clear money trail meant that Sharif was removed from his position for lying about his assets.
Leaked Panama Papers suggested that Sharif’s daughter Maryam was the beneficiary of the apartments in London. However, she claimed that she was only a trustee by producing documents that showed her brother as the beneficiary. Nevertheless, as the documents were typed in the Calibri font, a font not commercially available until 2007, it was found that the documents were falsified later on.
Reactions on social media were largely celebratory. However, the celebrations were overshadowed by an uncertainty about Pakistan’s future leader. Pakistan has not had a single prime minister serve their entire term since its independence. It is expected that Sharif’s brother Shehbaz, the Chief Minister of Punjab province, will take over from his brother to become Islamabad’s next leader.
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