Panama verdict: LHCBA gives PM 7-day ultimatum to resign

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan on Thursday demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after a Supreme Court bench declared there was "insufficient evidence" to remove him from office on graft charges. "The Prime Minister should immediately resign at least for the 60 days until JIT completes its work", Khan told reporters, referring to the joint investigation team.

The five-member bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had reserved its verdict in the case on February 23.

Prime Minister Sharif addressed the nation twice, once on April 5 and April 22 to take the nation into confidence and denied corruption allegations.He offered to form a judicial commission to probe the leaks against his family which was denied by Opposition parties.

The corruption controversy erupted when the 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which documented the offshore dealings of numerous world's rich and powerful, were leaked a year ago.

The petitions claimed that since Maryam was a dependant of Sharif, the Prime Minister had to declare the Mayfair properties in the wealth statement.

The bench examined arguments presented by the PTI, the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the Watan Party and the All Pakistan Muslim League, which framed the case as a campaign against corruption and were pushing for Sharif's ouster.

Mr Sharif's daughter Maryam, tipped as a future political star, and his sons Hasan and Hussein are implicated in the allegations.

The collection of leaked Panama papers showed that the offshore companies owned by Shariff's children managed huge funds.

He, however, hailed the two senior judges who asked Sharif, 67, to resign.

He also emphasised that the bar association's demand for the prime minister's resignation was 'legitimate and fair.' How officers can conduct a fair investigation into the alleged corruption against the sitting prime minister, he questioned. But it's not the first time the prime minister's wealth has been in the spotlight.

"A thorough probe is required", Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said, announcing the decision.

"Sharif is being termed a "thief" by people on the streets and he has lost all moral ground to stay in power", Zardari told a crowded press conference in Islamabad.

"After the Supreme Court's decision, Sharif's party should have asked him to resign but they are distributing candies to declare victory", Khan said.

  • Leroy Wright