The Supreme Court has held the Pakistani Prime Minister guilty in the Panamagate case, disqualifying him. The top court has ordered a criminal case to be filed against Nawaz Sharif, sending the Panamagate case to anti corruption court for trial.
Nawaz Sharif and his family had landed amid allegations when papers from a Panama based law firm leaked linking Sharif's children to offshore companies which were used to buy luxury flats in London were leaked.
A probe into the scandal about alleged money laundering by Sharif in 1990s, when he twice served as prime minister, began and the Pakistani opposition was quick to accuse the Prime minister of corruption and using political influence to build up personal wealth.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan took up the case in October last year on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Muslim League and Jamaat-e-Islami and reserved the verdict in February after conducting hearings on a daily basis. (rediff.com)
A six-member Joint Investigation Team was set up in May, by the five-judge bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa to investigate the charges on the 67-year-old Sharif and his family. The team submitted its report to the court on July 10. It has 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. (rediff.com)
The report caused an uproar in the country and opposition groups started demanding his resignation. The prime minister - who himself is not named in the Panama Papers - has been denying all allegations and insists that they all are politically motivated. There were also questions over the make-up of the investigation team. (bbc.co.uk)
The apex court concluded hearing the case on July 21, but reserved its verdict. (rediff.com)
The court had set up benches to hear all cases till August 11. It's sudden decision to give it's verdict on 28th July came as a surprise to many as it earlier announced the cause list for two weeks which did not include the gate case.
In the wake of the verdict, the Islamabad police had 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. The entry to the court was restricted to only those having special passes. (rediff.com)
Debate over Pakistan's political Future
According to many analysts, now that the Prime Minister has been found guilty he could nominate a close political ally - possibly his brother Shahbaz, who is chief minister of Punjab province - to his post so his government could see out its turn. (bbc.co.uk)
The verdict has also threatened the political future of the prime minister's daughter, Maryam Sharif, who has long been tipped as her father's successor in waiting, but she too has already been embroiled in the scandal. (bbc.co.uk)
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who has had a 33 year long association with Sharif had already said that he would resign and quit politics after the Supreme Court judgment on the Panama Gate case. His announcement, which came a day before the verdict in the high-profile case, stunned his supporters and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party. (news18.com)
Khan expressed serious disappointment over the way he was kept away from Sharif by his rivals. He also criticised some of the party leaders who have been speaking against Nisar Khan in the presence of Sharif with an objective to create differences. (news18.com)
The Supreme Court's decision has changed the politics of Pakistan and has left the people wondering about what will happen next.