Islamabad: In a partial breather for Nawaz Sharif, the country's Supreme Court decided, Thursday, to not disqualify him as Pakistan Prime Minister and instead ordered the setting up a Joint Interrogation Team to probe the Panamagate case.
A Supreme Court's five-member bench, led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, ruled 3-2 in favour of JIT to probe allegations against the PM.
The petitioners in Pakistan Advocate Tariq Asad, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq, PTI chief Imran Khan and Awami Muslim League head Sheikh Rashid Ahmed sought disqualification of the Prime Minister and his close family members for their alleged investment in offshore companies
Three members of the apex court bench were in favour of criminal proceedings against Sharif if the JIT finds him guilty. The other two judges wanted him to be disqualified straight away.
Media reports from Pakistan claimed that the court felt that Sharif had failed to justify that he was not involved in money laundering and also he couldn't prove that certain properties in London were not owned by his family.
The court directed that the JIT be formed within 7 days and it has to submit its report with two months.
Sharif and his sons will have to personally appear before the JIT and plead his case.
Interestingly, Pakistan's military intelligence and ISI will be part of the joint interrogation team.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's alleged wrongdoing came to light as part of a massive leak of secret files from a Panamanian law firm that specialises in setting up offshore companies in tax havens. A trove of 11.5 million digital records from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca last year revealed how many of the world's wealthy used offshore companies to stash assets.
According to the Panama Papers, three of Sharif's four children -- Maryam, Hasan and Hussain -- were owners of offshore companies and "were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies". But Sharif and his family have dismissed the allegations of money laundering and denied any wrongdoing.
Since the Panama Papers in June 2016, opposition parties have been jumping at the opportunity to register their protests and mobilise supporters to rally against Nawaz Sharif.
"I can say with surety that... not a single penny went out of Pakistan," emphasised PM Sharif on the floor of parliament on May 16, 2016, soon after details emerged in the Panama Papers.