Panamagate: Nawaz’s Brother Shehbaz Sharif Named Next Pakistan PM
A day after Nawaz Sharif resigned as Pakistan Prime Minister, his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif has been named the next Prime Minister by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) , according to various reports.
Nawaz Sharif resigned after the country’s Supreme Court disqualified him over the Panama Papers case on 28 July. Sharif has been accused of being involved in money laundering to buy assets in London in the 1990s.
- Nawaz Sharif resigns as Pakistan Prime Minister
- Nawaz Sharif’s brother, Shehbaz to become next Prime Minister
- A five-judge bench of Pakistan’s SC has disqualified Nawaz Sharif as PM
- The Court announced its verdict in the Panamagate case on 28 July
- Sharif was allegedly involved in money laundering to buy assets in London in the 1990s
- This was Sharif’s third time as Pakistan PM. His first two stints ended in the third year of his tenure
The five-judge bench, which voted 5-0, was headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa – the judge who, in his 20 April judgement, had referenced the famous quote from Mario Puzo’s novel Godfather: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”
"He is no more eligible to be an honest member of the parliament, and he ceases to be holding the office of prime minister," Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court on 28 July.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Declared Interim PM
After a meeting on Saturday, the PML(N) has decided to named Sharif’s brother Shehbaz Sharif as the next Pakistan Prime Minister. The PML(N) chief reportedly reached this decision after consulting the army chief.
The party also named Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the interim PM. According to local media reports, Abbasi will be the PM till Shehbaz steps down from his post as Punjab Chief Minister.
He will then have to be elected to the National Assembly, only after which he will be eligible to become the Prime Minister.
After the Supreme Court verdict, Pakistan Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf announced that Sharif had been “disqualified for life,” effectively saying that Sharif can no longer contest elections. Slogans of ‘Go Nawaz Go’ were heard outside the Court.
The assets in question surfaced when the 2016 Panama Papers leak revealed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif's children. The assets include four expensive flats in London.
A steel tycoon-cum-politician, Sharif had served as the Pakistan's prime minister for the first time from 1990 to 1993. His second term from 1997 ended in 1999 by Army chief Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup.
Sharif’s ouster also raises questions about Pakistan's fragile democracy as no prime minister has completed a full term in power since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
Finance Minister, Nawaz's Close Aide, Also Disqualified
Pakistan Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has also been disqualified from office, the state-run PTV news channel said.
Dar, who was Sharif's former accountant, had submitted documents to the Supreme Court detailing how the Sharif family obtained their wealth.
Dar has been considered one of the most influential people in Sharif's cabinet and has been credited with bringing the economy to a more sure footing after the 2013 balance of payments crisis.
Musharraf Congratulates Pakistan
Retired General Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistan President and chief of All Pakistan Muslim League, responded to the verdict, congratulating the entire nation, saying: "It’s a good decision. The entire nation is jubilantly distributing sweets."
Musharraf famously wrested power from Sharif in 1999 in a bloodless coup. He was President until 2008, when he tendered his resignation to avoid being impeached.
It's a Historic Day: Opposition Hails Verdict
The country’s Opposition hailed the verdict.
The chairperson of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, said the whole country was celebrating.
Finally law has caught up with the powerful, I salute the judiciary, they are our heroes. Poora mulk aaj khushi mana raha hai, kyunki hume lagta hai hum abhi aur mulkon ki tarah ab aage badh sakte hain (The whole nation is celebrating, now it seems like we can also move towards development like other nations).
Khan and his party doggedly pursued the issue until the Supreme Court took up the case.
Speaking to the press, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said:
It’s a historic day, let’s strengthen Pakistan, let’s get rid of terrorism from the country. Let us take this moment to express gratitude to the armed forces, police and other law enforcement agencies. We should also thank the JIT members for not succumbing to the enormous pressure and serving the cause of justice.
Meanwhile, Sharif’s allies have alleged there was a conspiracy to unseat him.
"This is not accountability, it is revenge," tweeted Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq hours before the verdict was announced. "In an effort dislodge us, the democratic system has been made a target."
How the Case Unfolded
In May, the Supreme Court set up a six-member joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate the charges against Sharif and his family. The JIT submitted its report to the court on 10 July.
It said the lifestyle of Sharif and his children were beyond their known sources of income, and recommended filing of a new corruption case against them.
Sharif dismissed the report as a "bundle of baseless allegations" and refused to quit, despite demands to do so from several quarters, including opposition political parties. On 21 July, the court reserved its verdict after concluding the hearing.
Ahead of the verdict on 28 July, Islamabad police announced special security arrangements and closed the capital's central "Red Zone" area, which has important buildings including the Supreme Court, for the general public.
Entry to the court was restricted to only those having special passes.
(With inputs from PTI.)
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