Nawaz Sharif narrowly survives Panamagate jolt

Leaders and supporters of ruling party PML-N celebrate after a Supreme Court verdict on the Panama Papers case outside the court building in Islamabad on April 20. — AFP

Leaders and supporters of ruling party PML-N celebrate after a Supreme Court verdict on the Panama Papers case outside the court building in Islamabad on April 20. — AFP

The Supreme Court agreed previous year to investigate the Sharif family's offshore wealth after opposition leader Imran Khan threatened street protests following the leaking of the "Panama Papers".

The court had agreed to investigate the family's wealth late previous year after opposition leader Imran Khan threatened street protests.

"Panama Paper leaks indicated that money was used by four companies in which his three children- two sons and one daughter were the beneficiaries and buying some premium properties in London and other parts of UK".

The Pakistan Supreme Court has announced that the formation of a joint probe team to investigate charges on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members in the Panama Papers case, according to the reports by CNN News 18.

Pakistan's former president Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday condemned the Supreme Court's ruling in the Panamagate case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying the decision has not only "damaged" democracy but also justice.

A five-judge bench, comprising Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, delivered the landmark judgement after examining arguments presented in the case.

Terming the apex court verdict "a historic judgment in Pakistan's history", he said that all five members of the bench had has rejected PM Sharif's explanation into his source of income and money trail that led to his children's offshore holdings.

The assets surfaced when Panama papers - a collection of leaked documents - showed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif's offspring.

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"With today's decision, not only democracy but also justice itself have been damaged".

Analysts in Pakistan were quick to warn Mr Sharif not to be too triumphant over the verdict, noting that the forthcoming investigation may yet harm him politically.

"There is no chance that decision will come against our leadership".

The premier's daughter, Maryam Nawaz, tweeted a photo of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his family and PML-N leaders celebrating the verdict with smiles and embraces.

In January this year, a BBC report revealed that Sharif family had purchased properties in London's upscale Park Lane neighbourhood in the 1990s and there was no change in ownership since then.

Fawad Chaudhry of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) said that Sharif should resign as all judges have accepted that money was illegally sent out of the country.

Addressing the media after the verdict, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said: "Every party including Imran Khan, Sirajul Haq should now respect the SC verdict".

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