Pakistan SC dismisses Sharif’s plea against disqualification

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In a body-blow to Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistan Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the review petitions filed by the ousted prime minister and his family, challenging his disqualification in the Panama Papers scandal.

Sharif, his children and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had filed separate petitions challenging the apex courts July 28 verdict in which the 67-year-old leader was disqualified from continuing in office.

It was also ordered that corruption cases be filed against him and his children, Hussain, Hassan and Maryam Nawaz — son-in-law Mohammad Safdar and Dar.

A five-member bench of the court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa heard the review petitions. It was the same panel which had disqualified Sharif.

“For reasons to be recorded later, all these review petitions are dismissed,” Khosa said.

The hearing started on Monday and continued through the week.

With the rejection of the petitions, Sharif has exhausted all legal options to challenge his disqualification.

However, politically, if his party wins next year’s elections with a two-thirds majority in Parliament, it can amend the Constitution to change the life-time disqualification to a limited period of time.

Advocate Salman Akram Raja represented Sharif’s children and Safdar, while Advocate Khawaja Harris represented Sharif. Dar was represented by Shahid Hamid.

During the hearing, Harris argued that how Sharif could be disqualified for not declaring a salary which he never received. But the court rejected the pleas.

Harris also argued that Sharif could not be disqualified for not declaring his assets and only his election could be declared null and void but the court rejected that argument as well.

Several other technical objections by the petitioners were also overruled and the court maintained its decision of July 28.

The Sharif family and Dar will now face corruption cases filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in an accountability court.

The Panama Papers case in Pakistan is based on leaks that the Sharif children owned offshore companies to manage their properties in London, which opposition alleges were bought with unaccounted money.