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Pakistan Supreme Court rejects calls for removing prime minister

[JURIST] The Pakistan Supreme Court [official website] rejected calls [opinion, PDF] on Thursday to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [official website] from office stating that there was insufficient evidence concerning the corruption allegations against Sharif and his family to constitutionally compel his removal from office. The court presented a 549-page split judgment with two of the five justices dissenting. The dissenting justices stated that Sharif should be forced to resign for lying to the electorate and the legislative body of Pakistan. The court ordered an investigative team to look further into Shariff's family and gave it two months to report to a special bench to review the proceedings. Political analysts state that the ruling is a blow to Sharif's credibility [Reuters report], despite the favorable judgment, and that the investigation's findings may weaken Sharif's chances at getting reelected.

Pakistan's current government has been under scrutiny in the last few months both on a domestic and international context. Last week a Pakistan military court sentenced Kulbushan Jadhav [The Hindu backgrounder], an Indian naval officer who was detained in Pakistan for the past year, to death. The court handed down [JURIST report] the death sentence after finding Jadhav guilty of espionage and sabotage. India stated that the sentence would amount to the "premeditated murder" of an Indian national by the Pakistan. Last month the Pakistan National Assembly voted [JURIST report] to renew an amendment to the country's constitution that allows military tribunals to oversee civilians accused of terrorist-related crimes. Advocacy groups including Human Rights Watch (HRW) have called [press release] on Pakistan to end the use of military court on civilians, saying it violates the the rule of law and creates human rights abuses. Also last month Sharif stated [JURIST report] that blasphemy is an "unpardonable offense" and ordered the state to remove such content from social media. In a Twitter post through the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz [official website] Twitter account, Sharif directed Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to bring to justice all those who have posted blasphemous comments.

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