Islamabad: Nawaz Sharif on Friday stepped down as Prime Minister of Pakistan after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding office in the Panama Papers case.
The PM House issued a notification saying that Sharif, despite having reservations on the SC’s verdict, has stepped down from his post as the Premier.
The Pakistan Supreme Court today unanimously disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for life from his post after an investigative panel found his family’s wealth was far above their earnings in the Panama Papers case.
The top court also ordered criminal cases be opened against Sharif and his family.
The five-judge bench ruled that the Prime Minister had been dishonest to Parliament and the courts and could not be deemed fit to hold office.
The Attorney General said that the bench disqualified the Prime Minister for life.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who headed the implementation bench, said all material collected by the Joint Investigation Team would be sent to an accountability court within six weeks.
He said cases should be opened against Maryam Nawaz (Sharif’s daughter), Captain Muhammad Safdar (Maryam’s husband), Hassan and Hussain Nawaz (PM Sharif’s sons) as well as Prime Minister Sharif and a judgement should be announced within 30 days.
The five-judge bench — including Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Gulzar Ahmed, Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Ijazul Ahsan, besides Ejaz Afzal Khan — announced the much-awaited verdict in Courtroom No. 1 of the Supreme Court in Islamabad.
The court also urged President Mamnoon Hussain to take charge of the country’s affairs.
This is the third time that Nawaz Sharif has been unable to complete his term in office.
It was unclear who will be appointed to take over the post till the next general elections, scheduled for 2018.
The bench also disqualified Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar, who is an Member of the National Assembly, from office.
Sharif, who became Prime Minister for the third time in 2013, had earlier denied wrongdoing and had warned that his ouster would destabilise Pakistan at a time when the economy was rebounding after a decade of political and security chaos. Sharif was the country’s 20th Prime Minister.
The son of an industrialist, Sharif saw both of his first two stints in power cut short in the 1990s, including in a military coup by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999.
It is notable that not a single Prime Minister in Pakistan has been allowed to complete his or her tenure since the country’s inception 70 years ago.
The political situation in Pakistan has been bumpy ever since 1947, with four democratically elected governments thrown away by military dictators, one Prime Minister was murdered while another was hanged by the judiciary, and another dismissed by the Supreme Court.