Pakistan's Supreme Court Exiles PM From Office, Nation Enters Political Turmoil

Josh O'Neill Assistant Editor 31 July 2017

Pakistan's Supreme Court Exiles PM From Office, Nation Enters Political Turmoil

The highly-anticipated court decision has caused political chaos in Pakistan, a nation considered crucial to ending the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Pakistan's Supreme Court has ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office following a corruption probe sparked by the infamous Panama Papers leak, triggering a fresh bout of political turbulence in Pakistan. 

In April this year, the Supreme Court ordered a criminal investigation into Sharif over corruption allegations that arose from last April's Panama Papers scandal, a leaked trove of data which shone a light on how politically-exposed persons and their affiliates stash money offshore. The case, filed by the opposition party, accused the Sharif family of using money acquired through corruption to buy upmarket apartments in London. 

Last week, the court disqualified Sharif for not being “honest”, a key requirement for lawmakers under Pakistan's constitution. His government, which has majority in Parliament, can continue despite the verdict. The party is now expected to name a new prime minister.

The case against Sharif centred around four luxury apartments in the UK capital. Details of the properties, which are in the name of Sharif's children, were revealed along with millions of other documents last April following the leak from Panama's Mossack Fonseca, the world's fourth-largest offshore law firm.

Sharif said the apartments belonged to his children, not him, and were acquired as part of a settlement of an old family business deal with a Qatari prince. 

But the investigation concluded he and his children were unable to “justify assets and the means of income”. The probe also alleged the family had provided fraudulent documents to the court.  

Pakistan was ranked 116/176 in Transparency International's 2016 Corruption Perception Index, as it scored 32 points out of a total 100. 

Sharif recently attempted to quash the investigation's findings when he touted them as slander. 

“This isn't accountability, this is exploitation,” he said. “I can guarantee no one in Pakistan is going to accept such accountability.”

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