Panamagate Case: Elated Opposition takes credit for disqualification of PM Sharif

Islamabad {Pakistan]: Opposition party politicians on Friday expressed their elation over the Supreme Court’s decision to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for the role in the Panama Papers Leaks case, and took complete credit for the landmark judgement announced on Friday.

The apex court had on April 20 declared there was “insufficient evidence” to oust Sharif over the graft allegations engulfing his family, and ordered a six-member investigation team to probe the matter.The six-member team of civilian and military investigators appointed thereafter found there was a “significant disparity” between the Sharif family’s income and lifestyle in its scathing report.

PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “It’s a historic day, lets strengthen Pakistan, lets get rid of terrorism from the country. Let us take this moment to express gratitude to the armed forces, police and other law enforcement agencies. We should also thank the JIT members for not succumbing to the enormous pressure and serving the cause of justice.”

Pakistan People’s Party leader Qamar Zaman Kaira was quoted by the Dawn, as saying, “The judgement came it was expected. It was on the cards for long.” All the opposition parties played their part in this, but the credit does go to PTI and Imran Khan for taking this issue to court and fighting this long legal battle.

The Supreme Court on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office in a landmark decision on the Panama Papers case.

Friday’s decision means that this was he third time Prime Minister Sharif was unable to complete his term in office.

What is currently clear is that the Election Commission of Pakistan will have to de-notify the prime minister to fulfill the technicalities of implementing the order.

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who had headed the apex court’s implementation bench following its April 20 order on the Panama Papers case, announced that the larger bench had unanimously deemed Prime Minister Sharif from holding office and would also order an accountability court to open a case against him.

The unanimous judgement was announced shortly after 12 p.m. local time.

Justice Khan said the bench had recommended that all material collected by the joint investigation team (JIT) tasked with probing the Sharif family’s financial dealings would be sent to an accountability court within six weeks.

The bench said that on the basis of this information, cases would be opened against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar; MNA Captain Muhammad Safdar; Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz; as well as Prime Minister Sharif.

A judgement on these references should be announced within 30 days, he said.

One judge will oversee the implementation of this order.

The prime minister was disqualified from holding his office as the judges ruled that he had been dishonest to parliament and the courts and could not be deemed fit for his office.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar, who is an MNA, also stood disqualified from office, Justice Khan said.

From Friday morning, all eyes were on Courtroom No. 1 of the Supreme Court in Islamabad, where a five-judge bench was set to announce the much-awaited verdict on the Panama Papers case at 11:30am. The proceedings started around half an hour later.

The original five-member bench of the Supreme Court which heard the Panama Papers case issued the final verdict. Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Ejaz Afzal Khan, Gulzar Ahmed, Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Ijazul Ahsan were present for the hearing.

According to media reports, the courtroom was filled to capacity as prominent politicians, lawyers and journalists crowded the room to hear the judges decide Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s fate.

The twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi had been on high alert in anticipation of the verdict.

The Red Zone had also been partially sealed and people were only being allowed inside after undergoing identification and strict security checks.

Over the last few days, Pakistan’s citizens had been awaiting the apex court’s verdict with bated breath.

Gossip, speculation and rumours had been rife over when the final verdict would be announced and what conclusion the judges would arrive at. The most important question of all remained whether the prime minister would be unseated or not.

On Thursday evening, the Supreme Court office had put all speculation to rest when it issued a supplementary cause list heralding the announcement of the judgement on Friday.

On the announcement that the larger bench would deliver the judgement, legal observers took the view that the earlier minority judgement, which recommended sending the prime minister packing, may become a majority view in case even one of the three majority judges ruled against the prime minister. (ANI)