Islamabad, April 13 : Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office or contesting elections for lifetime in a landmark verdict that will change the course of the country’s political history.
Justice Umar Ata Bandiyal read out the verdict delivered unanimously by a five-judge bench, puncturing the political future of Sharif, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen and other lawmakers under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, Dawn online reported.
The ruling said “the disqualification of any MP or a public servant under Article 62 (1)(f) in the future will be permanent. Such a person cannot contest elections or become a member of Parliament”.
The top court ruled that the disqualification will hold “until the court declaration disqualifying the lawmaker stands”.
Article 62(1)(f), which sets the precondition for a member of Pakistan’s Parliament to be “honest and truthful”, is the same provision under which Sharif was disqualified as Prime Minister in 2017 in the so-called Panama Papers case.
He was ousted by the apex court on July 28 for concealing in his nomination papers the receivable income from his son’s company in the UAE. Sharif has denied any wrongdoing.
Likewise, Tareen was disqualified in December for failing to declare an offshore company and a foreign property in his election nomination papers.
Tareen took to Twiter following the court’s decision and said the ruling on lifetime disqualification was “not applicable” in his case.
“I always believed 62 1(f) to be for life but not applicable in my case. Full money trail provided of tax paid income, property declared in assets of children and not mine on advice of tax consultant. This was the only issue. My review is still pending and justice will prevail,” he tweeted.
Pakistan Peoples Party leader Khursheed Shah said that apex court issued a verdict that is “in line with the Constitution”.
He said the PPP had repeatedly told Sharif to let Parliament decide the fate of politicians, “but he did not listen and went to the Supreme Court”.
PML-N’s State Minister for Information Maryam Aurangzeb termed the verdict a “joke that has already been played on previous Prime Ministers”.
“This is the same (kind of) decision that led to the hanging of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and (then) to the disqualification of an elected Prime Minister (Nawaz),” the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party member said.
PTI lawyer Chaudhry Faisal Hussain, lauding the SC verdict, said the omission in any constitutional provision could not be interpreted by any of the courts.
Female workers and activists from PML-N started protesting outside the top court’s premises following the decision. IANS