Panama Papers: Pakistan daily rues Nawaz Sharif's ouster, says verdict given on 'narrow grounds'

Islamabad: A leading Pakistani newspaper on Sunday accused the Supreme Court of ousting Nawaz Sharif as prime minister on "troublingly narrow legal grounds" and called for a review of the judgment.

"Out of necessary respect for the Supreme Court and abundant caution in a matter where a hasty or premature assessment could trigger controversy, the initial response by sensible and responsible quarters to the Panama Papers judgment was to emphasise the need for immediate political and legal acceptance of the court's orders," the Dawn said in an editorial.

"Now that the short but final judgment has been analysed by the legal community, the political class and the citizenry in detail, the implications of it for politics in Pakistan need to be forthrightly addressed," it said.

File image of Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

File image of Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

"The consensus in expert and independent circles is two-fold and clear: Nawaz Sharif has been stripped of the prime ministership on troublingly narrow legal grounds and the judgement has the undesirable potential to upend the democratic process in the country.

"In the circumstances, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar ought to consider, following an appropriate petition, convening the full court to review the five-member bench's final judgment in the Panama Papers case."

The Dawn said that if Pakistan's democratic project was to be sustained and strengthened, "the rules of the system must be clear, fair and transparent".

"It had been hoped that the Supreme Court would deliver a well-argued and well-reasoned judgement that would create a desirable and easily implementable legal precedent.

"Instead, the one that now holds sway in the application of disqualification criteria for elected officials is staggeringly wide and could become the source of chaos in the parliamentary realm," it said.

Dawn said: "Sharif, both as a citizen and as the legitimately elected prime minister, had a justifiable expectation of fair and proportionate justice.

"That does not appear to be the case in the five-member bench's final judgment and it has profound consequences for the future of the office of the prime minister and of Parliament itself."

On Friday, the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from holding the post of prime minister, saying he had been dishonest to the judiciary and Parliament about financial details of his family as revealed by the Panama Papers.

Sharif is expected to be succeeded by his brother, Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Updated Date: Jul 30, 2017 16:41 PM

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