Pakistan’s supreme court disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office over corruption investigations revealed in the Panama Papers with the latter announcing his resignation soon after the hearing.
The court ordered a criminal inquiry against him and his family on suspicion of corruption allegations. Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar was also disqualified by the court.
Sharif resigned from his post hours after after the court’s decision according to Reuters News Agency. His office released a statement that Sharif had ‘stepped down’ despite having serious reservations’ about the judicial process.
This ruling is a victory for former cricketer Imran Khan, the leader of opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf who has been calling for Sharif to step down ever since the allegations were made.
The situation remains unclear whether Pakistan will call for a new general election to get a new leader or have an interim prime minister till the next scheduled election in 2018.
Sharif, who was serving as Pakistan’s prime minister for a record third time was on the verge of becoming the country’s first ever leader to complete a term in the office.
The hearing was chaired by a five-member panel in the court who unanimously handed the verdict.
What did the Panama Papers reveal?
The investigations comes after the Panama Papers, an unprecedented leak of 11.5 million files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca, revealed that three scions of the Sharif family among thousands of powerful people of the world who had secreted their monies in offshore tax havens.
Sharif’s three children owned offshore companies and assets which were not shown on their families wealth statement. The companies were allegedly used to channel funds to acquire foreign assets, including some apartments along Park Lane in London’s Mayfair area as reported by BBC Urdu.
The insinuation that the companies were meant to hide or launder ill-gotten wealth or to avoid taxes called Mr Sharif’s credentials into question.
Pakistani world reacts
Sharif’s departure was cheered by many including Jemima Goldsmith, Imran Khan’s ex-wife.
Well known global figures of Pakistani origin like famous British-Pakistani actor Adil Ray took to social media to say this was a victory for the people of Pakistan.
Former Guardian and Mirror journalist Nooruddean Choudhry was also among the ones who applauded the ruling and claimed this was a win for Imran Khan.