Pakistan SC disqualifies Sharif, forces his exit
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the Panama Papers scandal, forcing the embattled leader to resign.
It is the third time that the 67-year-old veteran politician's term as premier has been cut short. The much- awaited verdict plunged Pakistan into a political crisis at a time when the country is facing a brittle economy and a surge in militancy.
As the unanimous verdict by the five-judge bench was read out by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan inside the packed courtroom 1 of the Supreme Court, a large number of opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers celebrated outside chanting the slogan, 'Go, Nawaz, Go'.
The court disqualified Sharif under Article 62 and 63 of Pakistan's Constitution. The articles state that a member of Parliament should be "truthful" and "righteous".
"He is disqualified as a member of the parliament so he has ceased to be holding the office of Prime Minister," Justice Khan said. The court ordered the Election Commission to issue a notification for Sharif's disqualification.
Following the order, the Election Commission de-notified Sharif from NA-120 constituency (in Lahore).
The federal Cabinet also stands dissolved.
Though there was no official announcement, PML-N sources said Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz, was most likely to succeed him as Prime Minister after the court verdict.
However, a name has not been announced for the interim prime minister, who will fill the 45-day vacuum until Shahbaz, 65, is elected to a National Assembly seat.
Following the court verdict, a spokesperson of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) said in a statement that Sharif had stepped down as the Prime Minister.
The court also ordered a criminal investigation into the assets of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Sharif's trusted aide, and Captain Muhammad Safdar, who is Sharif's son-in-law and a Member of National Assembly (MNA). Earlier, media reports in Pakistan had said that they had been disqualified.