Pakistan awaits Supreme Court ruling that could disqualify PM

Presenting its 549-page judgment amid tight security in the capital Islamabad, the court ordered a joint investigation team be formed to look into allegations around three of Sharif's four children using offshore companies to buy properties in London.

The names of members of the JIT must be announced within seven days, and a probe report must be released within 60 days.

Despite the fact that the prime minister says that the London property was acquired via a transparent and legitimate procedure, refuting all the accusations, Sharif's opponents claim that the purchase violated the law.

The court in Islamabad launched a probe past year into Sharif's family's offshore wealth after his children were linked to accounts in the so-called Panama Papers leaks in 2015. "If Aitzaz Ahsan stood there and argued against them [the Sharif family], then the decision might have been different". Simply, Prime Minister Sharif has got minor relief and major headache from this verdict.

"It was a close call for the Prime Minister", he said. Zardari, however, hailed the two senior judges who asked Sharif to resign.

The president of the Supreme Court Bar Association said the ruling showed that none of the judges had accepted the truthfulness of Sharif's speech to parliament.

Prime Minister Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, sons - Hasan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, retired Capt Muhammad Safdar (the PM's son-in-law) and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar were among the respondents in the case.

The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), Sharif's party, accepted the judgment.

Farogh Naseem, a Supreme Court lawyer and sitting senator, told Reuters after the ruling that Sharif could breathe easy, for now. "We will fully co-operate with the joint investigation team".

"With today's decision, not only democracy but also justice itself have been damaged".

The investigation along with Sharif will require his children, and it will be carried by Federal Investigative Agency, intelligence agencies, the central bank and other bodies.

"I think it is evident now to the nation that Nawaz's real face is not sharif", Zardari said.

It also proved a boon for the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) that had undergone a rollercoaster journey in the run-up to the announcement of Thursday's verdict.

Earlier, the area around the Supreme Court, located in Islamabad's Red Zone, was put on "red alert", with around 1,500 police, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary personnel deployed for security arrangements.

  • Leroy Wright