Pakistani PM must appear before new investigative team, court rules

Pakistani PM must appear before new investigative team, court rules

Pakistani PM must appear before new investigative team, court rules

Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif might have narrowly escaped the jinx attached with April, a month in which Pakistani premiers have previously been overthrown, sentenced to life and hanged.

The court late past year launched an investigation into the Sharif family's offshore wealth after opposition politicians threatened to spark street protests, and following months of wrangling between the government and opposition over the formation of a judicial commission.

Sharif defended himself in parliament last year saying the wealth his family possesses was acquired legally several years before he even ventured into politics. According to Reuters, protesters nearby were chanting "Go Nawaz, Go Nawaz", urging the PM to gracefully exit his political office.

Pakistan's apex court bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, was a divided house after it met to decide the fate of Nawaj Sharif and his family members in the Panama Papers case. "There is no clean chit for the prime minister, but for the time being he has been saved from being disqualified".

Sharif was first accused of corruption after three of his children were linked to offshore accounts uncovered by the 2015 Panama Papers leak.

Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif till the proposed Joint Investigation Team (JIT) completed its probe into the Panama Case.

Nawaz's staunch political opponent Imran Khan was present in the court when the verdict was announced. He also criticised the Supreme Court, alleging it traditionally shows leniency towards Sharif family. The two judges ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif, whereas the other three were in favour of forming a JIT.

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Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb told reporters the government will "accept the court decision".

'The verdict is historic because a sitting prime minister has never been investigated before, ' he said, adding the verdict to form a JIT proves all arguments by Sharif were lies.

Justice Khosa asserted that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had been unsuccessful in playing their role effectively.

The JIT will continue investigation on how funds were transferred to Qatar, thus the tension will remain for Sharif and his family till investigation is over.

The Panama Papers refers to a huge cache of leaked documents, dating back four decades, which are allegedly connected to Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The prime minister's team will hope that the complex nature of the investigation could see any recommendation it reaches kicked into the long grass.

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