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Nawaz Sharif to remain Pakistan PM, says Supreme Court

21 April 2017

After months legal wrangling and political melodrama, Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled narrowly Thursday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could keep his job but ordered further investigation into corruption allegations.

Under tight security, Pakistan's top court is to deliver a much-awaited decision on Thursday on corruption allegations against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family which could determine his political future.

The joint investigation team (JIT) has been asked to submit the report within two weeks, according to WION sources.

The verdict said the JIT to be led by a director-general level FIA officer is to include officials from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), State Bank of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence.

The judgement will be announced by a five-member larger bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on slew of petitions seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the wake of explosive disclosures of the Panama Papers, reports the Express Tribune.

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Details of the Sharif family's offshore assets surfaced when papers from the Panama-based law firm of Mossack Fonseca were leaked previous year.

In 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) leaked 11.5 million documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca.

"The split verdict proves that people, especially the PTI who opposed the Prime Minister, are in a minority", said Ahsan Iqbal, a leader from Sharif's PML-N.

While 3 judges of the bench called for further investigation, 2 judges had said that PM Sharif should be disqualified. Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing.

The prime minister and his party breathed a collective sigh of relief, as the fear of an "extreme verdict" - the premier's ouster - dissolved and gave way to celebrations. "It will remain as muddled, messy and chaotic as it has been over the last three years", says Mohammad Badar Alam, the Karachi-based editor of Pakistan's Herald magazine.

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"We believe that if Pakistan is not safe in the hands of Nawaz Sharif, it is also not safe in the hands of Imran Khan", the former president, whose own party is gunning for a victory in the next election, said.

The court also ordered that it was important to probe how money was transferred to Qatar.

The prime minister has insisted his father built up the family business before Sharif entered politics in the 1980s.

The focus of the probe was on the funds used to purchase property in London using offshore companies.

Late Wednesday he detailed his party's infrastructure achievements in televised comments at the inauguration of a power plant, without mentioning the looming verdict.

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Nawaz Sharif to remain Pakistan PM, says Supreme Court