Sunday, July 30, 2017

Disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

July 28, 2017
By Saeed Qureshi

A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan today (July 28) unanimously disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and chief of the political party “PMLN” from holding public office for a period of 10 years. Nawaz Sharif submitted his resignation after the ruling in Panama Papers case related to the allegations against the Sharif family for their alleged money laundering and establishing overseas properties. Under orders from the bench the Pakistan’s Election Commission also disqualified Nawaz Sharif as the member of the parliament.
Meanwhile other mainstream political parties, inter-alia, Jamaat-e-Islami. Pakistan People’s Party and MQM have applauded the Apex court’s verdict against Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
The bench also issued orders to file reference against Nawaz Sharif’s two sons (Hasan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz), Mariam Nawaz(daughter) and Captain Safdar (son in law) and Ishaq Dar (FiancĂ© Minister). In this regard, the apex court has directed the JIT to gather similar information of overseas assets and accounts and properties of these family members. The aim of the court is to broaden scope of inquiry and if proven guilty could take a similar roller coaster course as done in case of prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif.
This verdict was based upon the investigation carried out by a six-member JIT (Joint Investigation Team) formed by the Apex court to further collect evidence or information given in the Panama Papers with regard to the assets and the wealth of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his family members in Pakistan and abroad.
In their report of July 10, the JIT “found Nawaz Sharif and his family members of living beyond means, concealment of facts and being beneficial owners of multiple offshore companies and recommended initiation of reference against the PM and members of the ruling family in the NAB”.
“The report also highlighted the failure of the Sharif family to provide a money trail for its London apartments and claimed the prime minister and his children possess assets beyond their known sources of income.”
Prior to Mian Nawaz Sharif’s current disqualification, other prime ministers were also disqualified by the judiciary for financial malpractices and misuse of powers. Yousaf Raza Gilani the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Prime minister (25 March 2008 –19 June 2012) was disqualified in 2012 for refusing to reopen corruption case against the then president Asif Ali Zardari. Raja Pervez Ashraf another PPP prime minister (22 June 2012 – 25 March 2013) was also indicted and had to abandon his premiership.
The Supreme Court judgement against Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his consequent hanging (4 April 1979) is a part of the politico-judicial history of Pakistan. 
Let us watch what transpires in due course of time and whether as a result of further inquiries as ordered by the Apex Court, Nawaz Sharif may also be sent to jail. In the meantime, the PMNL ministers and leaders are expressing their bitter reaction and intense retaliation to a verdict that is certainly extremely stringent. The post indictment reaction of certain PMLN leaders was poured out in a hastily called press conference in which the speakers vowed to remain within the boundaries of law and put a legal and constitutional fight as permissible under the law.
The difference between this indictment and the previous ones is that this case was spearheaded by a political opponent and chief of the PTI former renowned cricketer turned politician Imran Khan and his close cohort Sheikh Rashid( founder of Awami Muslim League( AML)  party)and a bitter opponent of Mian Nawaz Sharif.
If it is a question of rooting out corruption from the government departments and officialdom and punish the bureaucracy and the political office holders then such action should have been taken across the board against all corrupt elements and individuals. Yet for the last several years the paramount agenda of Imran Khan has been riveted solely on Mian Nawaz Sharif and his financial corruption.
As far the mandate and approval rating in the recent and general elections, it is the PMLN that has been winning most of the seats, be these in Pakistan or Kashmir. As such, the fringe parties including PTI (Pakistan Tehrik Insaf) have resorted to street agitations to weaken the incumbent dispensation of PMLN.  
It is alleged that some of the judges in the apex court as well in JIT are related to or sympathetic towards Imran Khan. It is also alleged that behind the removal of Mian Nawaz Sharif is the gigantic project known as CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) initiated and being completed by the PMNL and with the personal interest and involvement of Mian Nawaz Sharif. India and some other unfriendly countries to Pakistan don’t want this milestone project to be completed and that can be done only if Nawaz Sharif was removed which presently has happened.
Nawaz Sharif’s popularity soared when under his orders Pakistan conducted six nuclear tests in May 1998 which were in response to the Indian tests. It fulfilled Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s mission of making Pakistan a nuclear state.
The street agitation and anti-PMLN drive has been mainly carried on by Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid (president Pakistan Muslim league) for a few years via street agitations and sits-in which now have assumed the judicial format.
It would have been more preferable and looked objective and desirable if a nationwide drive against corruption and concealment of ill-gotten or unjustified assets and wealth and offshore accounts was launched on the national level to cleanse Pakistan from the curse of corruption once and for all. This campaign by Imran Khan and his colleagues only against Nawaz Sharif and his family seems to be one sided and smacks of a kind of personal rancor and grudge.
While the PMLN is going to nominate another prime minister in place of Mian Nawaz Sharif, they party may file an appeal against the verdict. 
It is certainly a stunning irony that Mian Sahib also couldn’t complete even his first two terms as the prime minister of Pakistan. This would be the third time that he would be leaving the highest portfolio unceremoniously and without completing his term a few months before completion of the tenure in 2018. The incomplete three terms of Mian Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister are as follows:
5 June 2013 – 28 July 2017
17 February 1997 –12 October 1999
6 November 1990 –18 July 1993

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