Panama leak took away throne from PM Nawaz Sharif

‘’It was just one more year and he could have made the history’’- This is one of the regrets that many politicians in Pakistan must be living with at the present time, after Supreme Court in Pakistan took away the throne from Nawaz Sharif.

Nawaz was the 18th Prime minister of Pakistan and the history says no Prime Minister in Pakistan’s history ever completed the full tenure. Many believe that the Supreme Court has started a process of cracking down on corruption, which favors the democracy. Others see this as part of a long history of political manipulation through which the country’s powerful military establishment has sought to control civilian decision-making to elect its representative.

The case hearings – spread over nearly 15 months – have been marred by controversy. The case belongs in a criminal court. The Supreme Court, which is an appellate body, initially refused to hear it. But then it not only admitted the petition for hearing, it also took the unusual step of instituting its own investigation into the case, with a dominant role for military intelligence services.

Many believe that while the actions against corruption may remain a dream, this verdict will open the gates of power for a new set of politicians – as has often happened in the past. Mr. Sharif, who was serving as prime minister for a record third time, was less than a year away from becoming the first in Pakistani history to complete a full term in office.

He served as prime minister from November 1990 to July 1993 and from February 1997 until he was toppled in a bloodless coup in October 1999.

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The ruling came after a probe into his family wealth following the 2015 Panama Papers dump linking Mr. Sharif’s children to offshore companies. Sharif has consistently denied any wrong doing in the case.

The court’s ruling stated that Sharif had been dishonest in not disclosing his earnings from a Dubai-based company in his nomination papers during the 2013 general election. One of the judges, Ejaz Afzal Khan, said that Mr. Sharif was no longer “eligible to be an honest member of the parliament”. The court further demands investigation upon Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam, her husband Safdar, finance minister Ishaq Dar and many more.

The leaks in April 2016 revealed that three of Sharif’s children owned offshore companies and assets not shown on his family’s wealth statement.

The companies were allegedly used to channel funds to acquire foreign assets, including some apartments along Park Lane in London’s Mayfair area.

Despite documents from the Panama Papers suggesting that the beneficial owner of the luxury central London flats was Sharif’s daughter Maryam; she later claimed that she was only a trustee – and that it was her brother who was the beneficial owner.

To prove her point, Maryam Nawaz produced a trust deed signed by both her and her brother dated February 2006.

But a British forensic expert later said the document was “fake” or had been “falsified” because it was typed in the Calibri font, which was not commercially available until 2007. The insinuation that the offshore companies were meant to hide or launder ill-gotten wealth or to avoid taxes called Sharif’s credentials into question.

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It is not immediately clear who will succeed Sharif, but his brother Shehbaz, who is chief minister of Punjab province, is seen as a strong contender for the job. Pakistan’s ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), will be permitted by the speaker of the National Assembly to select an interim prime minister to rule until the 2018 general election. The PML-N, which has the most seats in parliament, is expected to deliver a statement later on Friday.

Opposition parties will also have the opportunity to put forward their own candidates for the position. Meanwhile, the court has directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the main anti-corruption body, to compile and send four references to accountability courts against Sharif and others. The NAB has been directed to file these references within six weeks. The accountability courts have been directed to complete hearings in these cases in six months.

The locals in Pakistan were seen gathering outside the Supreme Court, they were cheering the decision of the Supreme Court in Islamabad. The vice-chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, called it an “historic day” and praised the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) for “not succumbing to the enormous pressure and serving the cause of justice.”

Earlier, the Prime Minister of Iceland was also forced to resign after documents appeared to reveal that he and his wife concealed millions of dollars worth of investments in an offshore company.