External Affairs

Nawaz Sharif Narrowly Escapes Disqualification as PM in Panama Papers Case

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan addresses attendees during the 70th session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, September 30, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan addresses attendees during the 70th session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, September 30, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today narrowly survived being disqualified after a 3-2 split decision by a Supreme Court bench which ordered to set up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) within a week to probe the allegations of money laundering against his family.

The court also ordered Sharif and his two sons – Hasan and Hussain – to appear before the JIT, which would consist of officials from the Federal Investigation Agency, the National Accountability Bureau, the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the Military Intelligence (MI).

The JIT will present its report before the bench after every two weeks.

The five-judge bench comprising Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Gulzar Ahmed, Ejaz Afzal Khan, Azmat Saeed and Ijazul Ahsan issued the landmark judgement 57 days after concluding the hearing.

The case was launched on November 3 and the court held 35 hearings before concluding the proceedings on February 23.

The case is about alleged money laundering by Sharif in 1990s when he twice served as prime minister to purchase assets in London.

The assets surfaced when Panama Papers last year showed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.

The case in the Supreme Court was based on several identical petitions by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and others about alleged illegal assets of the Sharif’s family in London.

According to the judgement, Sharif, 67, survived as majority three judges supported the setting up of JIT to further probe the allegations while two other judges wanted to disqualify the prime minister.

The court also ordered that it was important to probe how money was transferred to Qatar.

The five member bench also criticised the NAB chairman who failed to carry out his duty. It said that he was unwilling to perform his duties.

It also said DG Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) failed to probe white collar crimes.

Sharif’s supporters hailed the decisions as a victory of justice.

“We have been vindicated as prime minister had last year asked to set up a probe commission to investigate Panama leaks scandal,” said Khawaja Asif, defence minister and close ally of Sharif.

Earlier, the area around the Supreme Court, located in Islamabad’s Red Zone, was put on ‘red alert’, with around 1,500 police, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary personnel deployed for security and maintaining peace.

(PTI)