Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif Gets Breather, 60-Day Probe Ordered

Pakistan’s top court ordered further investigation into corruption charges against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for now taking off immediate pressure and the prospect of a potential disqualification as his government continues efforts to boost an economy hit for years by power outages and terrorism.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ruled there is insufficient evidence of corruption to remove Nawaz Sharif from the role of prime minister.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) will be investigating the case and the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be required to present before the team. The court has ordered the setting up of a joint investigation team which has to submit its report in 60 days. It will have the final say on whether Mr. Nawaz Sharif can continue on as the PM of Pakistan or not.

“A thorough investigation is required,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said, announcing the highly anticipated decision following a months-long hearing that linked PM Sharif´s children to offshore businesses.

The final verdict was split 3-2 among the bench, with two dissenting notes in the judgement by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed. The two judges ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif, saying he should be disqualified, whereas the other three were in favour of forming a JIT.

Panama leaks

It all began in April 2016 with a huge leak of 11.5 million financial and legal records documents from the database of a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, which rocked governments and exposed politicians, celebrities, businessmen, criminals and the system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies.

Panama leaks and Pakistani PM

Mr Sharif and his family was linked to offshore accounts in the Panama Papers leaks in 2015. Mr Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing. Sharif’s three children – Maryam, Hasan and Hussain – were owners of offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy properties in London, according to the Panama Papers. Eight off-shore companies reportedly have links with the family of PM Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab, the Leaks claimed.

Sharifs – one of Pakistan’s richest families – have been accused of corruption, ownership of illegal assets, tax avoidance and money laundering. But Sharif and his family have dismissed the allegations of money laundering and denied any wrongdoing.