Following a unanimous Supreme Court ruling to remove him from office on corruption charges, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigned.
According to The Times of Islamabad, Pakistan’s Supreme Court “disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers case verdict. Justice Ejaz Afzal announced the decision.”
In April 2016, leaked documents showed his sons Hassan and Hussein, along with his daughter Maryam, own at least three offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, tax havens for ill-gotten gains.
Sharif’s resignation is effective on Friday. He’s been investigated since last year on corruption charges. His choice was either resigning or being forced from office.
On July 10, the Supreme Court appointed Joint Investigation Team (JIT) submitted its report, recommending Sharif and family members be held accountable for disparities found between their income and far greater wealth, saying:
“Significant gap/disparity among the known and declared sources of income and the wealth accumulated by the Respondent No. 1 (Sharif), 6, 7 and 8 (his sons and daughter) have been observed.”
“The financial structure and health of the companies in Pakistan having linkages to the Respondents also do not substantiate the wealth of Respondents.”
“Moreover, irregular movement of huge amounts in shape of loans and gifts from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-based company (Hill Metals Establishment), United Kingdom based companies (Flagship Investments Limited and others) and United Arab Emirates based Company (Capital FZE) to Respondent No. 1, Respondent No. 7 and Pakistan based companies of Respondent No. 1 and family have been highlighted.”
“The role of off-shore companies is critically important as several offshore companies have been identified to be linked with their businesses in UK while conducting this investigation.”
“These companies were mainly used for inflow of funds into UK based companies; which not only acquired expensive properties in UK from such funds but also revolve these funds amongst their companies of UK, KSA, UAE and Pakistan.”
“A holder of public office, or any other person, is said to commit or to have committed the offense of corruption and corrupt practices, if he or any of his dependents or benamidars owns and possesses or has acquired right or title to any assets or holds irrevocable power of attorney in respect of any assets or pecuniary resources disproportionate to his known sources of income, which he cannot reasonably account for or maintains a standard of assets beyond that which is commensurate with his sources of income…”
Three times in Pakistan’s 70-year history a prime minister was forced from office – Sharif each time.
Elected as a champion of democracy, he was forced to resign in 1993. Massive corruption and hardline rule made him hugely unpopular.
He sacked thousands of workers, cut food subsidies, let utility costs skyrocket, banned state union sectors and restricted worker rights to demonstrate and strike.
At the same time, he and his cronies siphoned off millions of dollars in state funds, amassed enormous wealth, and hid it in offshore tax haven accounts.
Under his rule, state institutions were collapsing. Workers and Pakistan’s poor suffered most.
In 1999, during his second term as PM, he was forced from office by General Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court asked the country’s national anti-corruption bureau to investigate further allegations against him.
Opposition leader Imran Khan called for his prosecution and imprisonment, saying:
“The prime minister’s final destination is Adiala jail. Now I am not demanding his resignation, but imprisonment.”
It’s unlikely but possible. Either way, his political career appears over at last.