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Pakistan’s Sharif resigns after disqualification by Supreme Court

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A general view of the Supreme Court building in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 28, 2017 (photo by AFP)

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan has resigned following a Supreme Court ruling that disqualified him from office over corruption charges.

Sharif’s office said on Friday that he was resigning shortly after the Supreme Court issued a verdict disqualifying him earlier in the day

“He is disqualified as a member of the parliament so he has ceased to be holding the office of Prime Minister,” Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan told a packed courtroom.

Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Party, which has a majority in parliament, is expected to name a new prime minister to hold office until elections due next year.

The court also dismissed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, one of Sharif’s closest allies.

It was the second time in Pakistan’s 70-year history that the Supreme Court has disqualified a sitting prime minister.

Sharif had been ousted as leader before completing his term twice before. In 1993, he was sacked by the then-president over graft allegations, while in 1999 he was ousted in a military coup.

The court also asked the national anti-corruption bureau to launch a further probe into the allegations against Sharif.

The Pakistani prime minister and his family had faced allegation of financial corruption, and Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the Supreme Court panel in the case, had declared the end of the hearings last week.

Pakistani paramilitary soldiers and policemen cordon off the main entrance to the Supreme Court building during a hearing on the Panama Papers case in Islamabad, July 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Supreme Court had ordered an investigation team in April to review evidence and a disqualification verdict was expected.

The allegations stemmed from revelation in the so-called Panama Papers that purported the Sharif family had been involved in offshore money laundering.

A Supreme Court-appointed investigatory panel had said previously that the family wealth was way beyond their means. It had further accused Sharif’s children, including presumed heir Maryam, of signing forged documents to hide ownership of posh London flats.

The daughter of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, arrives to appear before an anti-corruption commission at the Federal Judicial Academy in Islamabad, July 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Sharif had denied any wrongdoing and slammed an earlier 254-page report by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) as biased and slanderous.

The ruling will be welcomed by the opposition, which had long argued for Prime Minister Sharif’s disqualification over the corruption allegations.

Opposition leader Imran Khan had previously said Sharif had to be imprisoned.

“The prime minister’s final destination is Adiala jail. Now I am not demanding his resignation, but imprisonment,” Imran Khan said earlier.

The allegations

The Sharif family’s finances came under the spotlight last year after the so-called Panama Papers revealed the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful people.

The names of three of Sharif’s four children, daughter Maryam and sons Hasan and Hussein, were there.

In April, Pakistan’s Supreme Court announced it had not received enough proof to disqualify Sharif from office and ordered an investigatory panel to gather and review the evidence.

The investigators earlier this month concluded that there had been “significant disparity” between the Sharif family’s declared wealth and their known sources of income.

The damning report was submitted to the Supreme Court.

The Sharif family has consistently denied the allegations against them and rejected the JIT report, dismissed by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Party as “trash.”

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