Panama Papers: Pakistan's Sharif Banned from Politics for Life

Published: 13 April 2018

By Haroon Janjua

Pakistan’s Supreme Court clarified in a Friday ruling that its July 2017 decision to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif means he will have to stay away from politics for the rest of his life.

Sharif, 67, was removed after the Panama Papers leaks revealed that his children owned offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and that they used them to buy flats in London.

“Today once again, the three-time elected Prime Minister of Pakistan has been disqualified for life,” Information and Broadcasting Minister and Sharif ally Marriyum Aurangzeb told reporters outside the court.

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that anyone disqualified under a constitutional clause requiring legislators to be "honest and trustworthy" will not just be removed from their post but is disqualified to hold any office in politics for life.

Sharif’s permanent removal from Pakistan’s political life is creating an additional problem for the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), ahead of summer elections. MPs have already started abandoning the party and courts have started processing several corruption cases it is allegedly linked to.

The Sharif family and their political supporters have repeatedly rejected all allegations against Sharif and believe he is a victim of a plot hatched by Pakistan’s powerful military.

Prior to Sharif’s recent term as prime minster, that started in 2013 and ended with his removal last year, Sharif served as prime minister in the 1990 but entered a feud with the country’s president and was overthrown by the powerful military in 1993.

The second-term standoff was also ended by the military, which removed Sharif from the office in 1999 through a coup by General Pervez Musharraf.

Tensions between democratic governments and the military had remained a constant source of instability in Pakistan, with the military staging coups and running the country for nearly half the time since independence from British colonial rule in 1947.