World

Pakistan's top court removes Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's top court yesterday disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office after a damning corruption probe into his family wealth, cutting short his third stint in power and ordering a criminal investigation of his family.

In a surprise move, the court also dismissed Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, one of his closest allies who has been credited with steering the economy to its fastest pace of growth in a decade.

Mr Sharif's ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, which has a majority in Parliament, is expected to name a new leader to hold office until elections due next year.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Mr Sharif was not fit to hold office after an investigative panel alleged his family could not account for its vast wealth.

"He is no more eligible to be an honest member of the parliament, and he ceases to be holding the office of prime minister," Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court.

Prior to the decision, cabinet ministers, including Mr Sharif's closest allies, said the ruling party would respect the Supreme Court's verdict.

Supporters of the PTI opposition party who had gathered outside the court and who jeered politicians from Mr Sharif's party shouted: "Go, Nawaz, Go."

Mr Sharif's supporters echoed his declarations of a conspiracy against him.

"Those who are happy and dancing will cry tomorrow," said Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali.

"They have stabbed democracy in the back."

Analysts have warned that another bout of political turmoil would spook foreign investors, who are already reticent to invest in Pakistan, deterred by security fears.

Mr Sharif has denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the investigation - stemmed from disclosures last year in the Panama Papers - as biased and inaccurate. - REUTERS

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