Pakistani PM must appear before new investigative team, court rules

Out-of-control loadshedding annoys PM

In a 3-2 judgement on the case, the apex court earlier ordered the formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to continue probing the allegations of financial irregularities and money laundering, while noting that at present, there is 'insufficient evidence to remove Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif'.

"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 Supreme Court also ordered Sharif, 67, and his two sons, Hasan and Hussain, to appear before the JIT.

Justice Khosa said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had failed to probe the case properly.

Details of the Sharif family's offshore assets surfaced when papers from the Panama-based law firm of Mossack Fonseca were leaked past year.

After the release of the report based on leaked documents of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonsecca in April, Sharif had pledged to step down if charges were proved.

If Sharif is ousted, the PML-N can select a new prime minister from within the party, though there may be political pressure for fresh polls.

The court convened under tight security Thursday in Islamabad - with riot police cordoning off the roads around the tribunal building - but instead of the expected measures, it ordered that a joint government-intelligence commission look into the matter. He also criticised the Supreme Court, alleging it traditionally shows leniency towards Sharif family.

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Both the prime minister's supporters and his critics have been claiming today's decision as a victory.

The Pakistani politician was mentioned in the Panama Papers in the context of his children's links to accounts and offshore companies revealed by the leak.

Late a year ago, the Supreme Court took up the case, after months of wrangling between the government and opposition over the formation of a commission to probe the allegations.

Those facing corruption allegations include Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz, who tweeted ahead of the decision that she was amazed and humbled over seeing so much support from the people for her father.

Prime Minister Sharif's governement was sacked by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan for alleged corruption in April, 1993.

Opposition leader and lawyers termed the court's verdict as an indictment of Sharif and demanded his resignation.

"It needs to be investigated how the money was transferred to Qatar", the Thursday 540-page verdict read. "PM Sharif had suggested that he is willing to be probed by a committee", News 18 reported.

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