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Nawaz Sharif narrowly survives Panamagate jolt as Supreme Court says 'insufficient evidence'

21 April 2017

The detailed judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding the Panama Leaks case contained a chart which highlighted the Prime Minister and other respondents' contradictions with regard to the ownership of the London flats.

The court has ordered further investigation into the Panama Papers scandal that the prime minister and his family are allegedly involved. Past year he told parliament that his family wealth was acquired legally in the decades before he entered politics.

As the court made its much-awaited verdict, protesters requesting Sharif to step down gathered in front of the building as well as Sharif's supporters did.

Pakistan's apex court bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, was a divided house after it met to decide the fate of Nawaj Sharif and his family members in the Panama Papers case. However, the bench remarked that prime minister had not been disqualified.

The assets surfaced when Panama papers a year ago showed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif's children.

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Sharif will appear before the probe team, which will have to submit its report in 60 days.

At the same time Imran Khan's PTI party, which has lead the corruption allegations, will hope to keep the case in the headlines ahead of elections due to take place next year.

The worst April in history of the country was April 4, 1979 when former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged in Rawalpindi for criminal conspiracy to kill a leading politician.

Justice Khosa asserted that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had been unsuccessful in playing their role effectively.

The case against Sharif stems from documents leaked from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm, which appeared to show that his daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies and used them to buy properties in London.

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The JIT will investigate how the funds were transferred to Qatar.

"Whether the court convicts him or not today it spells trouble and the prime minister will be weakened", said Herald newspaper editor Badar Alam.

Opposition parties accuses Sharif of failing to explain the source of money in offshore companies owned by his children and of lying to parliament.

"The split verdict proves that people, especially the PTI who opposed PM, are in a minority", said Ahsan Iqbal, a leader from Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Kashif Abbasi of ARY News said the ruling party has "nothing to be happy about" while Munizae Jahangir of Aaj news said "the issue won't be resolved" until the investigation was concluded.

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Opposition leader Khan first called for an investigation into Sharif, whom his party has accused of corruption.

Nawaz Sharif narrowly survives Panamagate jolt as Supreme Court says 'insufficient evidence'