Ruling party to file review petition against PM’s disqualification in Supreme Court
By Sheraz Khan, South Asia Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
GLASGOW, United Kingdom (ANS — July 30, 2017) — Shehbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of the province of Punjab and the brother of Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, who was ordered out by the Pakistani top court on Friday, July 28, 2017 on corruption charges, will be the next prime minister of Pakistan until the country goes to polls in June next year.
The Supreme court justices ruled that Nawaz Sharif had been dishonest to the parliament and the courts in not revealing his employment in the Dubai-based Capital FZE company in his 2013 nomination papers, and thus, could not be deemed fit for his office.
Pakistan’s ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to install Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the current petroleum minister as an interim prime minister for 45 days.
Mr. Abbasi is likely to win approval of the lower house of the Pakistani parliament for the interim prime minister on Tuesday, August 1, 2017. The PML-N has a strong majority in the lower house of the parliament.
The ruling party has decided that Shehbaz Sharif will contest a by-election for member of the national assembly on a seat that has been vacated following the ouster of prime minister Nawaz Sharif before he takes over as prime minister from Mr Abbasi, a PML-N loyalist.
“Having furnished a false declaration under solvent information, Mian Nawaz Sharif is not honest”, judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court on Friday, July 28, 2017.
“He is no more eligible to be an honest member of the parliament and he ceases to be holding the office of prime minister.”
The apex court’s ruling came following an investigation into the Sharif family’s wealth after the Panama papers revelations which established a link between Mr Sharif’s sons, Hassan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif to offshore companies.
Cricketer-turned politician and chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (Justice party) had submitted to the supreme court that the Sharif family had accumulated wealth through corrupt practices.
Nawaz Sharif and his family have consistently denied charges of accumulating wealth through corrupt means.
A five-member bench comprising supreme court justices heard arguments from Imran Khan, PML-N and other parties to the case.
In April of this year two of the five justices recommended that Nawaz Sharif be disqualified, stating that Mr Sharif had no longer remained honest and reliable. Sections 62 and 63 of the constitution of Pakistan require members of the Pakistani parliament to be honest and reliable.
The rest of the three judges mandated a further investigation into the family’s wealth.
The court formed a six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT), two of whose members came from military background: One from powerful Inter-Services Intelligence and the other from the military intelligence.
The inclusion of the two men from military background in the JIT raised eyebrows as Nawaz Sharif hasn’t had an easy relationship with Pakistan’s powerful military, which is seen as a powerful actor in Pakistan because of its sway on matters relating to economy, defense and foreign policy.
In 1993, the military forced prime minister Nawaz Sharif to resign. His government was again cut short in 1999 in a military coup by president (retd.) General Pervez Musharraf.
Carved out of the subcontinent as an independent nation in 1947 Pakistan, a maturing democracy, has experienced military rule for half of its nearly 70 years life.
Prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to improve trade relations with neighboring India, Pakistan’s arch rival, also did not go down well with Pakistan’s powerful military.
One view of Pakistan holds that the army wants the status quo between Pakistan and India as it justifies the military’s over inflated defense budget.
On July 10, 2017, the JIT said in its report that it found “significant gap amongst the known and declared sources of income and the wealth” of the Sharif family.
The Supreme Court reserved its judgement following the JIT’s report and gave its ruling on Friday, July 28 2017 ordering prime minister Nawaz out of office.
The court in its ruling has asked the national anti-corruption bureau to probe corruption cases against Mr. Sharif, Ms. Sharif and her husband Captain (retd.) Muhammad Safdar Awan, Finance minister, Ishaq Dar and others. \
Reacting to Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification Ms. Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif’s daughter wrote on Twitter: “Another elected prime minister sent home, but only to see him return with greater force and support and soonest, Inshallah (God willing). Stay strong PML-N”.
Mr Sharif has become the second prime minister to resign in the wake of the Panama Papers’ revelations as the Iceland’s prime minister was forced to tender resignation after the documentary evidence suggested that him and his wife had stashed millions of dollars’ worth of investment in an offshore company.
Imran Khan who has been asking Mr Sharif to resign since 2014 lauded Pakistan’s judiciary for disqualifying Mr Sharif from office. He told a news conference that Sharif’s ouster from office was a “good omen” for Pakistan.
Addressing thousands who gathered in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, on Sunday, the 30th of July 2017 Mr Khan said he was grateful to the judiciary stating that “with their judgement, they had brought us a new hope”.
PML-N supporters have also held rallies in support of the ousted prime minister in many cities of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s ruling party has asked its supporters to remain peaceful however, it described as “unjust disqualification” of prime minister Nawaz Sharif by the country’s apex court.
Mr. Nawaz Sharif, who addressed PML-N parliamentary party meeting on Saturday, the 29th of July 2017 stated that it was the ruling party that had commenced mega development projects in Pakistan.
He also listed the party’s electoral successes in Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan, in the local elections as well as in the cantonment elections.
Mr. Nawaz Sharif expressed his resolve to continue serving the people in the remaining term of the PML-N government.
He hailed the government for initiating China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. China is financing infrastructure projects worth US$50 billion across Pakistan.
Addressing the PML-N parliamentary meeting, Mr. Nawaz Sharif stated that before he came to power in 2013 the international media reports had described Pakistan a failed state, claiming that in the later years the international magazines that report on economy praised his government for the initiatives his government had taken aimed at improving the economy.
The PML-N has decided to file a review petition in the supreme court against the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif from office.
Mr. Nawaz Sharif told the meeting that he was not a weak leader adding that the PML-N had accepted the supreme court’s decision despite having reservations on it.
On non-disclosure of the Dubai-based employment permit Mr Nawaz Sharif said: “why should I have declared the salary which I had not received”.
Pakistan’s English news daily “Dawn” editorial has asked the chief Justice of Pakistan to convene full court to review the verdict of Nawaz Sharif’s controversial disqualification.
Pakistan’s top journalists have also criticized the justices for disqualifying Nawaz Sharif on as trivial a matter as the non-disclosure of an employment permit.
Umar Cheema, Pakistan’s investigative journalist who writes for the Daily “News” wrote on Twitter: “By the way, SC (Supreme Court) couldn’t have done more favour to Nawaz Sharif by disqualifying him on frivolous charges”.
Kamran Khan, president and editor in chief of the Dunya Media Group wrote on Twitter: “Huge condemnation of the judgement here and abroad is just beginning of controversy that will further mar the image of the SC (Supreme Court) as anti-democracy”.
Photo captions: 1) Shehbaz Sharif, to be the new Pakistani PM. 2) His brother, Nawaz Sharif bids farewell to his job as PM. 3) Sheraz Khan.
Sheraz Khan is a Pakistani-British journalist. He lives in Scotland. He can be contacted by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
** You may republish this or any of or ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net). Please also tell your friends and colleagues that they can get a complimentary subscription to ANS by going to the website and signing up there.