Posts Tagged ‘Sharif’

Nawaz Sharif vindicated as Supreme Court refuses to reopen Hudaibiya Paper Mills Case — Political stability in Pakistan still being questioned

December 15, 2017

 

Former prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif addresses a public rally organized by Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party in Quetta on Nov. 2, 2017. (AFP)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday unanimously rejected the appeal to reopen the 17-year old corruption case against ousted Premier Nawaz Sharif and his family members.
In an appeal, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB ) sought to re-open the case commonly known as the Hudaibiya Paper Mills.

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The country’s anti-graft body, NAB, alleges that the Sharif family used the company in the 1990s to launder about $10 million out of Pakistan; Sharif and his family members deny the allegation.
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The court order has brought some relief for Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif who was also accused in the case. The Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif from office in July this year due to concealment of financial assets and that forced him to step down.
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Pakistan has been in political turmoil since Nawaz Sharif’s judicial ouster, which was largely flayed by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party members who called the ouster a conspiracy against a democratically elected government.
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National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq is the latest member of the political corps and senior government officials to speak of an alleged conspiracy to derail democracy in Pakistan. He expressed his fear that the current assemblies may not be able to complete their full terms.
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In an interview this week, Sadiq said he has “enough information to believe that a conspiracy was being hatched” to “disrupt the (democratic) system.” This was quoted on a local television channel and he added that the recent sit-in protests by far-right activists in different cities were also part of this “greater plan.”
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According to the media, Sadiq also hinted at the involvement of external forces in political maneuvering to destabilize the government and stressed that the US would eventually question political stability in Pakistan if such “experiments went unabated.” His statements have caused great concern, not only among politicians but among the general public as well.
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The government is already facing difficulty in getting the constitutional amendment passed by the Upper House, Senate, which is required for delimitation of constituencies after the recent population census — a prerequisite for holding next year’s elections on schedule. Any delay in elections would essentially mean an interim setup taking over until constitutional requisites were fulfilled.
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Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, however, said he was optimistic that the assemblies would complete their term.
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After a meeting with Nawaz Sharif in London on Thursday, Abbasi confidently said: “Our government will have smooth sailing and an interim government will be formed in June.”
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As the opposition party Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) demands snap elections alleging governmental incompetence and corruption, religious groups oppose the government over an amendment which the government calls a clerical error. While opposition parties are forging different alliances to add to the mounting pressure on the government, Pakistan appears unsure of its political course.
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Pakistan’s Ousted PM Nawaz Sharif Elected Again as Party President — Sharif’s re-election as party chief makes him a national leader again — “He is the symbol of economic development in Pakistan”

October 3, 2017

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s ruling party on Tuesday re-elected ousted premier Nawaz Sharif as its leader, saying he was “back with full force”, a day after using its parliamentary majority to amend a law to allow him to re-take the job.

Image result for Nawaz Sharif, October 3, 2017, photos

Jafar Iqbal, who headed a five-member election body, said Sharif had been elected party president unopposed by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PML-N) central executive committee.

Sharif resigned as prime minister in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him for not declaring a source of income. He was also forced to step down as president of PML-N, though he kept control of the party and installed Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a loyalist, as prime minister.

Sharif’s re-election as party chief brings him back into the political fold, he said, contradicting those who thought he would no longer be relevant.

“There have been attempts again and again to exit me, but you will always keep giving me an entry again and again,” Sharif told party workers after his election. “I congratulate that you’re bringing Nawaz Sharif back with full force.”

No one came forward to contest Sharif, Iqbal said amid clapping, thumping and slogans in support of Sharif in televised proceedings of the election in Islamabad. The former prime minister will lead the party for four years.

“Nawaz Sharif is the symbol of economic development in Pakistan,” Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said in his address to the party members.

Parliament amended a law on Monday to enable Sharif to re-take the PML-N leadership. Opposition lawmakers tore up paper copies of the Election Bill 2017, passed by the Senate last week, that allowed Sharif to become the party president again.

The vote was more of a formality as PML-N has a vast majority.

Sharif has appeared before an anti-corruption court and is expected to be indicted next week, along with three of his children.

The veteran leader denies any wrongdoing and has alleged there was a conspiracy against him, with senior PML-N figures pointing fingers at elements of Pakistan’s powerful military.

The army denies playing a role.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has re-elected former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as the party’s president for a period of four years.

The formal announcement was made at the party’s general council meeting at Convention Centre, Islamabad by the PML-N’s chief election commissioner Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal.

Nawaz has been elected unopposed as no one else contested against him.

Earlier, during the intra-party election, Nawaz’s nomination papers were submitted by State Minister Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

Senior PML-N leaders, including Nawaz, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif are present at the event.

Party leaders are addressing the gathering of scores of party workers and leaders, after which Nawaz is expected to address the gathering.

PML-N leaders at the general council meeting. Photo: Geo News

On Monday, the PML-N central working committee approved an amendment to the party’s constitution, paving Nawaz’s way to lead the party following his disqualification from the Supreme Court.

As Nawaz was deemed not fit to be in Parliament, as per the country and party’s laws, he also had to let go of his presidentship of the PML-N.

However, according to the PML-N, the amendment to the party manifesto aims at getting rid of ‘dictator’s remnants’.

In the meeting of the central working committee, headed by the party’s interim president Senator Sardar Yaqub Nasir at Punjab House, on Monday, the committee unanimously accepted the amendment.

The party leaders expressed confidence and reaffirmed their trust on the party leader. They also paid tribute to the former prime minister for his services during his tenure.

PML-N amends party constitution, allows disqualified member to lead party

The intra-party election is being held after the National Assembly on Monday passed the Elections Bill 2017, paving way for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to regain chairmanship of the ruling party.

The bill was also ratified by President Mamnoon Hussain.

A controversial clause in the bill — which was heavily criticised by the opposition — allows politicians disqualified from holding public office to lead political parties.

https://www.geo.tv/latest/160904-pml-n-to-elect-nawaz-as-party-president-today

Pakistani Court Indicts Finance Minister on Graft Charges — Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to be indicted on October 2

September 27, 2017

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani court in a high-profile corruption case has indicted the country’s finance minister on graft charges after investigators found his assets did not match his reported income.

State media report that Ishaq Dar was present in the courtroom Wednesday when a judge read the charges against him. Dar denied the allegations.

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Ishaq Dar

Under Pakistan’s laws, Dar can continue to work as a minister until he is found guilty. However, opposition leaders have asked him to resign on moral grounds.

Dar has close familial ties to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified from holding office by the Supreme Court for concealing his financial assets in July.

Dar’s indictment comes a day after Sharif made his first appearance before a judge to face corruption cases.

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Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to be indicted on October 2

Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has appeared before an anti-graft court for the first time to face corruption charges against his family.

Source: 

AAP – SBS Wires
22 HOURS AGO

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has appeared before an anti-corruption court, kicking off trial proceedings that he says are biased and which threaten to dent his party’s chances at the next general election due in mid-2018.

Sharif briefly appeared before a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court in Islamabad on three corruption charges. He did not enter a plea.

Local TV channels reported that Sharif is scheduled to be formally indicted on October 2, about two months after his disqualification by the Supreme Court for not declaring a small source of income that he denied receiving.

A Supreme Court panel has also alleged Sharif family’s wealth far exceeds their legal income.

“He has appeared before the court and by appearing he has proved to be a lion,” said Marvi Memom, an MP for Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)party.

Sharif, who returned from London on Monday after about a month in Britain, told the court his wife was being treated for cancer in London and needs his care.

Sharif has portrayed the corruption claims against him as politically motivated, while his allies, including daughter and heir-apparent Maryam, have hinted Pakistan’s powerful military had a hand in his toppling. The military denies any such action.

Image result for Imran Khan, photos

Imran Khan

“It’s a good thing that finally NAB and such institutions are holding the rich and powerful to (account),” said Shafqat Mahmood, a senior members of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

PTI, led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan who doggedly pushed the Supreme Court into launching a corruption probe into Sharif, has called for an early election but it is unlikely the government will agree to that.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/09/26/ex-pakistan-pm-nawaz-sharif-be-indicted-october-2

Former Pakistan PM Sharif challenges ouster

August 16, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif has hit back against his ouster by the Supreme Court over corruption allegations, demanding a review of his case
ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has hit back against his ouster by the Supreme Court over corruption allegations, demanding a review of his case.

The Supreme Court sacked Sharif in late July following an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, making him the 15th premier in Pakistan’s 70-year history to be sacked before completing a full term.

The allegations against the prime minister spiralled from the Panama Papers leak last year, which sparked a media frenzy over the lavish lifestyles and luxury London property portfolio of the Sharif dynasty.

In a lengthy petition demanding that his case be reviewed, Sharif’s legal team laid out 19 points challenging the court’s judgement, saying the ruling suffered “from errors floating on the surface”.

“The petitioner seeks review of the final order of the court,” read the application filed late Tuesday, according to a copy seen by AFP.

The Supreme Court has also ordered the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, the National Accountability Bureau, to open a criminal case against Sharif, his sons — Hussain and Hassan — and his daughter Maryam.

Last week Sharif led a defiant crowd of supporters from the capital, Islamabad, to his hometown, Lahore, in a days long procession that brought thousands into the streets in a show of force.

During the trip Sharif repeatedly lambasted the court’s ruling, saying the decision was an “insult” to Pakistanis

Former Pakistan PM Challenges Disqualification by Court

August 15, 2017

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani official says former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has filed petitions with the Supreme Court to challenge his disqualification and removal from office.

Environment Minister Mushahidullah Khan, who is in Sharif’s party, said Tuesday that the former prime minister’s lawyers filed three petitions to review the verdict.

The court disqualified Sharif after documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm showed that his family held previously undisclosed overseas assets. A five-judge panel last month disqualified Sharif, accusing him of concealing assets.

Last week Sharif held a series of rallies across the country, criticizing the court ruling and seeking to whip up popular support.

Ousted Pakistani prime minister starts defiant ‘caravan’ to hometown — “defiant show of political power” (Video)

August 9, 2017

Reuters

AUGUST 9, 2017 / 4:53 AM

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif began a rally on Wednesday in a defiant show of political power after a Supreme Court decision disqualified him from office late last month over undeclared assets.

Sharif launched the “caravan” from Islamabad to his eastern hometown of Lahore, despite the concerns of close advisers about security for himself and the crowds he is expected to draw.

Thousands of Sharif party supporters thronged the capital to join in the rally, setting up camps along the route he is expected to take and address supporters.

“Nawaz Sharif is still our prime minister,” said worker Niaz Ahmad, who wore a lion look-alike costume, and chanted, “Lion, Lion!” referring to the election symbol of Sharif’s political party.

Sharif, 67, resigned during his third stint as prime minister after the Supreme Court ruled on July 28 that he should be disqualified. The court also ordered a criminal probe into his family over allegations stemming from the “Panama Papers” leaks of international offshore companies.

Pakistan’s new prime minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a close Sharif ally, said the former leader was alert to security threats.

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FILE PHOTO – Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gestures as he speaks to media after appearing before a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in Islamabad, Pakistan June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood REUTERS

“The bigger a leader is, the bigger the threat is,” Abbasi told domestic Geo TV.

Sharif was seen off in Islamabad by Abbasi, the new cabinet and other party officials, Sharif’s political adviser Asif Kirmani said.

“We really don’t know how long it will take, how many days, we have no idea,” Kirmani told reporters.

He said a huge number of people were waiting for Sharif along the Grand Trunk Road linking the capital, Islamabad, with Lahore, which is about 380 km (237 miles) distant.

Sharif, in recent meetings with party leaders, lawyers and media, has expressed his displeasure over the court ruling.

He said no corruption charges had been proved, and it was unfair to disqualify him on the grounds of not having declared a salary from his son’s Dubai-based company among a list of assets submitted ahead of the 2013 elections that brought him to power.

Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, which has a solid majority in parliament, elected Abbasi as his replacement within four days.

Party leaders have recently suggested that Abbasi is expected to hold office until elections due next year, a reversal of earlier indications that Sharif’s younger brother, Shahbaz, would take over the office.

Shahbaz is now likely to replace his brother as party chief, since the ousted premier can no longer lead a political party, as Pakistani law bars such roles for any convicted or disqualified person.

Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Ally of Pakistan’s Ousted PM Nawaz Sharif Nominated to Replace Him

July 31, 2017

ISLAMABAD — A close ally of ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday submitted papers in parliament to become the new premier, part of a two-part plan by the ruling party for a smooth transition that will see Sharif’s brother take the reins later.

Former petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is expected to be elected the new prime minister on Tuesday by Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party’s majority of lawmakers.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered Sharif disqualified from office last week over unreported income uncovered during a sweeping investigation of his finances.

The court also ordered a separate criminal investigation into Sharif and his family in its ruling, which Sharif’s allies have portrayed as political meddling but opposition leader Imran Khan has hailed as a victory for the rule of law.

Abassi on Monday stressed he would continue Sharif’s policies. His tenure is expected to last only about two months until Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz, becomes eligible to be prime minister by winning a parliamentary by-election.

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Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz. AFP photo

“Our party will succeed with our majority, God willing,” Abassi told reporters inside parliament after filing the official nomination papers.

“The policies we had until Friday, we will continue with that,” he added.

Sharif’s PML-N party won elections in 2013 and holds a majority of 188 seats in the 342-member parliament, so it should be able to swiftly install its choice of premier, barring defections from its own ranks.

Over the weekend Sharif said he was shocked by Friday’s Supreme Court ruling disqualifying him over unreported income from a company owned by his son in Dubai. Sharif said the monthly salary – equivalent to $2,722 – was nominal and he never actually received any of it.

Sharif’s two previous stints in power were also cut short, the second ending in a military coup led by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

Initially placed under house arrest, Sharif went into exile before returning to win a resounding victory in 2013 elections.

The Supreme Court employed the little-used Article 62 of the Constitution, which calls for the dismissal of any lawmaker deemed dishonest, to remove Sharif.

His allies believe the verdict smacks of judicial overreach. Others say privately that elements of the military had a hand in the process.

(Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez)

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to be nominated as interim Pakistan PM, say reports

Shahbaz, however, cannot immediately replace Nawaz Sharif since he isn’t a member of the Parliament. In order for him to be elected as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan, he will have to first get elected. In the meantime, an interim prime minister will have to be chosen who will eventually resign once Shehbaz becomes eligible for the post.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 29, 2017 6:19 pm

Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan PM, New pakistan PM, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi , Shahbaz Sharif, Panama papers

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will likely be the interim Prime Minister of Pakistan. Shortly after Nawaz Sharif’s exit, the ruling party PML-N proposed his younger brother Shehbaz for the role of the prime minister. Shahbaz, however, cannot immediately replace Nawaz Sharif since he isn’t a member of the Parliament.

Just a day after Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court from the Prime Minister post, Shahid Khawan Abbasi will likely serve as the interim prime minister for 45 days till Nawaz’s younger brother Shahbaz Sharif takes over as his eventual successor, reported Pakistan daily Dawn. Shortly after Nawaz Sharif’s exit, the ruling party PML-N proposed his younger brother Shehbaz for the role of the prime minister. Shahbaz, however, cannot immediately replace Nawaz Sharif since he isn’t a member of the Parliament. In order for him to be elected as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan, he will have to first get elected. In the meantime, an interim prime minister will have to be chosen who will eventually resign once Shehbaz becomes eligible for the post.

Shahbaz’s eventual election as the Prime Minister seems to be a foregone conclusion as the ruling party (PML-N) holds a big majority in Parliament. The Supreme Court court on Friday disqualified Sharif and also ruled that graft cases be filed against the beleaguered leader and his children over the Panama Papers scandal. Senior Pakistan Muslim League leader and former railway minister Khawaja Saad Rafique while speaking to media said the party will be holding a meeting on Saturday to discuss on candidates appropriate for the post of prime minister, party’s new president and members of the Cabinet. He was quoted by PTI as saying: “Different options were discussed in a similar meeting yesterday but no decision was taken.” Also Read: Panama Papers: Nawaz Sharif’s children’s offshore firms own 6 homes in London

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Geo TV reported that the ruling party has decided to appoint Shahbaz Sharif as Prime Minister in an informal meeting which went on for three hours. Abbasi, who is a former petroleum minister, will be appointed as interim prime minister until Shahbaz is elected as member of parliament, the report said. Also Read: Scanning Pakistani newspaper front pages on Nawaz Sharif’s ouster as PM

The final outcome will be announced by Nawaz Sharif in the formal parliamentary party meeting of PML-N which is taking place in Islamabad a day after he was disqualified by the Supreme Court.

During former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf’s time, politician Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was appointed as an interim prime minister until Shaukat Aziz, who was nominated by Musharraf, got elected by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PMLQ).

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to be nominated as interim Pakistan PM, say reports

Pakistan’s ex-PM Sharif names brother Shahbaz as successor — Ruling against him slammed by the media as a “judicial coup”

July 29, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | The announcement charts a way forward for Pakistan after the Supreme Court ousted Sharif Friday after an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif named his brother Shahbaz, the chief minister of Punjab province, as his successor and nominated ex-oil minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as an interim premier in a defiant speech Saturday.The announcement charts a way forward for Pakistan after the Supreme Court ousted Sharif Friday following an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, bringing to an unceremonious end his historic third term in power and briefly plunging the country into political uncertainty.

“I support Shahbaz Sharif after me but he will take time to contest elections so for the time being I nominate Shahid Khaqan Abbasi,” Sharif said in a televised speech to his party.

The younger Sharif holds only a provincial seat, so must be elected to the national assembly before becoming the new prime minister.

Earlier Saturday the Election Commission of Pakistan confirmed fresh elections would be held in Nawaz Sharif’s former constituency.

Abbasi is set to be rubber-stamped as placeholder in a parliamentary vote, with Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz commanding a majority in the 342-seat house.

The opposition could also field a candidate for the premiership, though the nominee has little chance of getting sufficient votes.

Nawaz Sharif became the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s 70-year history — roughly half of which was under military rule — to be ousted before completing a full term.

The decision sent his political opposition into the streets handing out sweets and beating drums in celebration.

But Pakistanis were divided on whether it set the country’s democratic progress back, with supporters, commentators and some corners of the country’s press slamming the ruling as a “judicial coup”.

– ‘Honest’ –

The court said in its judgement that it was disqualifying Sharif for failing to disclose his monthly salary of 10,000 dirhams ($2,700) from a company owned by his son in the United Arab Emirates.

Sharif did not withdraw the salary, court documents show, but the five-member bench ruled his failure to disclose its existence meant he was not “honest” — a requirement for Pakistani politicians under the country’s Constitution.

Opposition leader Imran Khan, who has spearheadead the push against Sharif, hailed the verdict as ushering in a new dawn for Pakistan.

But some observers slammed it as “political” and a “technicality”, with rights campaigner and lawyer Asma Jahangir telling private Geo television late Friday that the powerful military was using the courts to destabilise democracy.

The military had an antagonistic relationship with Sharif, who had made several overtures to improve relations with nuclear arch-rival India.

Sharif’s link to the UAE company was exposed as part of an investigation into corruption allegations against his family that erupted as a result of the Panama Papers leak last year.

The publication of 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca documenting the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful implicated three of Sharif’s four children — daughter Maryam and sons Hasan and Hussein.

Claims about the lavish lifestyles and luxury London property portfolio of the Sharif dynasty played out for months in endless loops in the country’s raucous news media.

Bribery and other forms of graft are endemic in Pakistan. The PML-N has consistently and noisily denied the accusations, insisting that the dynasty’s wealth was acquired legally through Sharif family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.

Related:

Pakistan’s Top Court Weighs Dismissal of PM Over Corruption Report

July 21, 2017

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday finished hearing arguments on a scathing corruption report into the family wealth of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and will begin deliberating whether to disqualify the premier.

The court is expected to make a decision in a week or two, with analysts split on whether it will dismiss Sharif outright or recommend a fresh investigation and corruption trial by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Few expect the judges to drop the case, since the Supreme Court appointed the investigatory panel that alleged the Sharif family’s wealth was beyond its means.

It further accused his children, including presumed heir Maryam, of signing forged documents to hide ownership of posh London flats.

Sharif has denied wrongdoing and slammed the 254-page report by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) as biased and slanderous. He has also rejected opposition demands to stand down.

Image result for Pakistan prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, photos

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Sharif’s lawyers have been arguing that the JIT overstepped its remit, and disputed its findings.

Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the three-judge Supreme Court panel hearing Sharif’s case, on Friday announced the hearings had been concluded by saying: “Judgement reserved”.

Khan did not say when the Supreme Court would announce its decision, however.

Opposition parties believe Sharif is wobbling and expect the Supreme Court to deliver a knockout blow to his premiership by employing a little-used constitutional provision to dismiss a sitting official.

“From our legal perspective it’s crystal clear: he can’t survive this,” said Shafqat Mahmood, a lawmaker and senior official with the opposition PTI party.

Sharif’s allies interpret the court’s decision not to summon him as indicating that it will order a NAB investigation.

Such an outcome would be seen as something of a victory by the ruling PML-N party because it would probably allow Sharif to finish his term and even contest the next polls in 2018.

Sharif has faced numerous investigations since he served his first two terms in the 1990s and now has many pending NAB cases. Both those terms were cut short, and he spent a long time in exile after being deposed in a military coup in 1999.

Sharif, son of an industrialist, has denied all the claims against him and his supporters say he has never been convicted of anything despite facing unprecedented scrutiny during three stints in power.

Sharif has talked of a conspiracy against him, but has not named anyone. Privately, however, his allies say elements of the military and the judiciary are bent on toppling him.

Last week, the army spokesman brushed aside suggestions that the military was the hidden hand behind the investigation.

Opposition politicians say Sharif is concocting conspiracy claims to save himself, and argue that if he really wanted to protect democracy he would step down.

(Reporting by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Pakistan PM hits out at ‘slandering’ of his family over wealth

June 15, 2017

Reuters

By Drazen Jorgic and Saad Sayeed | ISLAMABAD

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday lashed out at what he called the “slandering” of his family in connection with an investigation of their wealth, and said unidentified people with agendas against him posed a danger to the country.

Sharif was speaking after being grilled by a powerful panel investigating him and his family in an inquiry ordered by the Supreme Court that has gripped Pakistan and become increasingly politicized.

“What is happening here is not about corruption allegations against me, it is about slandering the businesses and accounts of my family,” a defiant Sharif, clad in traditional shalwar kameez tunic and trousers, said as he read from a statement.

Sharif, 67, spent about three hours at the offices of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in the capital, Islamabad, becoming the first Pakistani prime minister to be questioned by an investigative agency.

“No corruption charges have been proven against me in the past and, inshallah (God willing), it will not be so once again,” he said.

The Supreme Court agreed last year to investigate the Sharif family’s offshore wealth after the opposition threatened protests after the leaking of the “Panama Papers”.

Documents leaked from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm appeared to show that Sharif’s daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy luxury properties in London.

The Supreme Court ruled in April there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif from office over corruption allegations leveled by the opposition, but it ordered further investigations.

Sharif, whose father was a prominent industrialist, has said his family wealth was acquired legally.

A three-time prime minister, Sharif was ousted twice in the 1990s, including in a 1999 military coup. He later lived in exile, mostly in Saudi Arabia.

He swept back to power in an election in 2013 but rumors of tension between his government and the powerful military, which oversees the foreign relations and national security, occasionally circulate.

‘SUSPICIOUS’

Sharif suggested that unidentified enemies acting behind the scenes should be stopped from trying to subvert the wishes of the electorate that handed his party victory in a 2013 general election.

“If the factories that produce agendas and silence the decisions of the people are not closed, then not only the law and constitution, but the safety of this country will also be jeopardized,” he said.

Pakistan has been plagued by pervasive corruption for decades, with politicians often accusing rivals of underhand dealings.

The Supreme Court has given the panel two months to investigate the family and then deliver its findings.

The six-man panel, made up of members of civilian investigative agencies and military intelligence officers, are examining three generations of Sharif family wealth.

The team has accused government departments of tampering with old records, but Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday rejected such allegations, adding that the team’s claims meant the process was becoming “suspicious”, media reported.

Sharif’s camp has sought to remove two members of the investigation team and his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party voiced outrage over a leaked photograph taken from security camera footage showing Sharif’s son, Hussain, appearing before the panel.

Opinion polls suggest Sharif’s party is likely to win the next election, due next year.

A senior PML-N official told Reuters the party was unlikely to call an early election if Sharif was ousted by a Supreme Court ruling, and would select a new prime minister to take over until the general election.

(Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Robert Birsel)