Panama Papers: Nawaz Sharif and family has much to worry despite a split stand by Pakistan Supreme Court

New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should be worried after the Pakistan Supreme Court's majority verdict on Thursday. The Prime Minister's family is accused of buying property through funds routed through Saudi Arabia and Qatar — a trail established in the Panama Papers that were leaked from the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca that documented offshore deals of the rich and famous around the world.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

But Sharif and family have 67 days to establish how they came to route their funds to buy properties overseas.

"The decision essentially changes nothing as far as the current state of the politics is concerned. It will remain as muddled, messy and chaotic as it has been over the last three years," says Mohammad Badar Alam, the Karachi-based editor of Pakistan's Herald magazine.

"The Supreme Court's verdict is an interim judgment — the judges have sought more investigations (within the next two months or so) to be conducted by a specially constituted committee into the trail of money used in buying flats owned by Nawaz Sharif's family. The court has rejected the earlier explanation offered by the lawyers representing Sharif and his family.

"After the investigation report comes in, the court will resume proceedings and will arrive at a decision in the light of that report. We must suspend our judgments about the future of Sharif's politics and that of his government and his party until that decision is made in due course of time," he says.

In Alam's interpretation of the court verdict, two members of the five-judge bench have differed with their colleagues because they believe Sharif is disqualified from holding a constitutional post since he lied to Parliament on the trail of money with which his family's flats have been purchased.

However, "While Nawaz Sharif will continue to face political and legal challenges and allegations of corruption and money laundering, his government does not face any imminent threat — at least not in the next 60 days. Imran Khan's position appears a little weakened because he has been canvassing for Sharif's immediate disqualification. It is a setback for him, at least for the next two months or so — though this may change quickly if the investigation committee set up by the court finds the Pakistan prime minister and his family guilty of money laundering," Alam explains.

But G Parthasarathy, former Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad, believes that today's court order "is certainly a matter of some concern for Sharif despite whatever he might show outwardly".

"Justice Khosha, who is possibly the next Chief Justice, took a very adversarial position. What is being looked at are the details of how Sharif got the funds in Saudi Arabia and the UK. He has not been able to give any clear answer. The court also wants to know about the payments from Qatar," Parthasarathy pointed out.

The official spokesperson for India's ministry of external affairs refused to comment on the developments in Pakistan because they were part of the neighbouring country's internal procedures.


Published Date: Apr 20, 2017 07:32 pm | Updated Date: Apr 20, 2017 07:53 pm


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