Pakistan’s top court ordered the prime minister be investigated for corruption Thursday, in a highly anticipated decision that granted Nawaz Sharif a temporary reprieve as judges said there was insufficient evidence to oust him from power.
Sharif and his children had been accused of graft in an ongoing case that had threatened to topple the prime minister and captivated Pakistan after the Panama Papers leak last year linked the family to offshore business. The Supreme Court issued a split ruling calling for a joint investigation team of anti-corruption officials along with the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence to probe the claims. “A thorough investigation is required,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa told the court, presenting the 540-page written judgement which opens with the epigraph that launches Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel “The Godfather”: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime”. Two of the five judges went further, branding Sharif “dishonest” and saying he should be disqualified, but they were outnumbered.
Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party has spearheaded the push against Sharif, called on the prime minister to resign until the investigation is completed. The continuing controversy could trouble Sharif’s governing party ahead of general elections next year
It erupted with the publication of 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca last year which documented the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful.
At the heart of the matter is the legitimacy of the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies.
ISLAMABAD AFP/Daily Mail, April 20, 2017