Pakistan Prime Minister resigns after Supreme Court disqualification

Pakistan Prime Minister resigns after Supreme Court disqualification

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile] resigned from office [LA Times report] on Friday after the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] issued a unanimous ruling [order, PDF], earlier the same day, disqualifying him from office. Sharif was before the Court due to allegations of corruption surfacing after the Panama Papers [BBC backgrounder] leak. The leaked documents suggested that Sharif’s children had offshore assets that were not disclosed in the family’s wealth statement and led to further investigation by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), comprised of officials from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the State Bank of Pakistan, and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan [official websites], among others. Based on the results of that investigation, the Court found that the assets of Sharif and his children were disproportionate to their reported sources of income, which disqualified Sharif from holding public office under the NAB Ordinance [materials, text]. The Court ordered:

It is hereby declared that having failed to disclose his un-withdrawn receivables constituting assets from Capital FZE, Jebel Ali, UAE in his nomination papers filed for the General Elections held in 2013 in terms of Section 12(2)(f) of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 (ROPA), and having furnished a false declaration under solemn affirmation respondent No. 1 Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is not honest in terms of Section 99(f) of ROPA and Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan [text, PDF], 1973, therefore, he is disqualified to be a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) … The Election Commission of Pakistan shall issue a notification disqualifying respondent No. 1 Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif from being a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) with immediate effect, whereafter he shall cease to be the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan’s petroleum minister and a loyalist of the Sharif administration, has currently assumed office as interim prime minister [WP report].

Pakistan has been under intense scrutiny in recent months, both at the domestic and international level. The Supreme Court ruling and Sharif’s subsequent resignation follows calls for Sharif’s removal [JURIST report], earlier this month, by opposition parties in Pakistan after the JIT report was released. In April, 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. However, in May, the International Court of Justice [official website] instructed Pakistan [JURIST report] to withhold the execution until the international court reaches its final decision. In March, the Pakistan National Assembly [official website] voted [JURIST report] to renew an amendment to the country’s constitution that allows military tribunals to oversee civilians accused of terrorist-related crimes.