Panama Papers: Not Enough Evidence to Disqualify Nawaz Sharif, SC Rules

Panamagate verdict on Thursday; much at stake for Pak PM Nawaz Sharif

Supreme Court to release Panama Case verdict on April 20

The documents claimed that Sharif and three of his four children "were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several [offshore] companies".

A member of the larger bench Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan had observed that the Panamagate verdict would not just concern the Sharif family, but it would, in fact, set in motion a law which would last for centuries.

After months legal wrangling and political melodrama, Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled narrowly Thursday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could keep his job but ordered further investigation into corruption allegations. The JIT has been directed to submit a report withing 60 days.

In a judgement that was split 3-2 in the 5-judge bench, the court cited insufficient evidence to disqualify Sharif from the office of prime minister.

The Panama Papers, which were published previous year, released around 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which documented offshore dealings of numerous world's rich and powerful.

Sharif 's supporters hailed the decisions as a victory of justice.

Khan's party said before the ruling that it would not launch a new street movement if it was disappointed by the judgement.

Talal Chaudhry, a prominent leader of Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said the court would clear the prime minister of corruption charges.

But lawyers for Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, argue the paper trail for the funds is non-existent, and say the onus is on Sharif to prove his relatives did not engage in money laundering.

The allegations focus on Sharif's previous two terms in office, in the 1990s. Sharif and his daughter told the Supreme Court last November that their London property was bought through investments in companies owned by the Qatari ruling family.

The president of the Supreme Court Bar Association said the ruling showed that none of the judges had accepted the truthfulness of Sharif's speech to parliament.

Years later on April 26, 2012 then prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani was convicted for disobeying an order by a court to write letter to Swiss government to reopen a corruption case against Asif Ali Zardari.

"I condemn the Supreme Court's decision and reject it", further adding, "Today democracy and justice were adversely affected". Included in those documents were letters showing that three of Sharif's children - Maryam, Hassan and Hussain - were listed as beneficiaries for three companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. The prime minister and his party breathed a collective sigh of relief, as the fear of an "extreme verdict" - the premier's ouster - dissolved and gave way to celebrations.

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