Pakistan Supreme Court rejects calls for removing prime minister, opposition demands resignation on ‘moral grounds’

MAMOSA Report — The Pakistan Supreme Court rejected calls on Thursday to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif 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 Sharif’s family and gave it two months to report to a special bench to review the proceedings  — in a ruling that opens with the epigraph from Mario Puzo’s novel “The Godfather”: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime”.

The prime minister and his children deny any wrongdoing.

Last year, the Supreme Court agreed to investigate the Sharif family’s offshore wealth after opposition leader Imran Khan threatened protests after the leaking of the “Panama Papers”.

After the ruling, Khan told reporters, “The prime minister should immediately resign at least for the 60 days until JIT completes its work,” referring to the joint investigation team. “What moral grounds does he have to continue in office?”

Opposition renews calls for PM’s resignation in parliament

On Friday, opposition parties ramped up pressure in the Parliament, demanding the premier’s resignation with one voice and protesting yesterday’s verdict.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), PPP and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) each held press conferences following the meeting of opposition parties in capital Islamabad, and demanded PM’s resignation.

Khan on Friday also announced his party’s intent to hold a rally in the capital next Friday demanding the PM’s resignation for the duration of the probe ordered by the paex court.

Opposition leader Khursheed Shah, while addressing the joint meeting, said: “Besides the government, every other party has understood the Panama case verdict.”

PPP lawmakers Aitzaz Ahsan and Khursheed Shah addressing a press conference following the meeting of opposition parties rejected the formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the PM’s family, claiming that the Sharifs have links with the Inter-Services Intelligence, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, and the State Bank of Pakistan.

“How can an employee fairly investigate his employer?” Shah asked.

“We always asked the PM to refrain from resigning [in the past] for the sake of democracy. We always stood by Nawaz Sharif in the name of democracy,” he said.

Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said it was a custom of the SC to “keep a soft hand on the Sharifs”, but noted that the majority judges had rejected a letter from a Qatari royal submitted as evidence by the PM’s counsel.

He said the PPP rejects the formation of a JIT which would include people who favored the ruling party.

The PPP also rejected the SC decision to clear Maryam Nawaz before the formation of the JIT.

In response to a question, he said the PPP would form a new strategy to force the prime minister to step down.

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.

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