Pakistan PM quits after court verdict

Supporters of Mr Nawaz Sharif, with one holding his picture, protesting in Lahore against the court verdict disqualifying him from holding the office of Prime Minister. Mr Sharif resigned soon after.
Supporters of Mr Nawaz Sharif, with one holding his picture, protesting in Lahore against the court verdict disqualifying him from holding the office of Prime Minister. Mr Sharif resigned soon after.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

ISLAMABAD • Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigned yesterday after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding the office after a damning cor- ruption investigation into his fa- mily's finances.

The ouster of Mr Sharif, 67, whose three stints as prime minister have all been cut short, plunged the South Asian country into political turmoil ahead of national elections next year.

"He is no more eligible to be an honest Member of Parliament, and he ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister," Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court yesterday.

The corruption allegations stemmed from the Panama Papers' leaks on international offshore companies which revealed that Mr Sharif's family had bought posh London apartments through offshore companies.

Mr Sharif has always denied any wrongdoing and has dismissed the probe as biased and inaccurate. His allies have alleged that there was a conspiracy to unseat him.

An investigative panel said in its 254-page report that Mr Sharif's family assets do not match the family's earnings. It also accused his children of signing forged documents to obscure ownership of the London flats.

Yesterday's unanimous verdict by the five-member Bench of the Supreme Court was a major political victory for opposition leader Imran Khan, a former cricket star who last year threatened mass street protests unless Mr Sharif's wealth was investigated.

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

The country's benchmark stock index tumbled 3.4 per cent after the court verdict before regaining some ground.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2017, with the headline 'Pakistan PM quits after court verdict'. Print Edition | Subscribe