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Pakistan court orders graft probe into PM


Seeking justice: Supporters of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party celebrating in Islamabad following the Supreme Court’s verdict on Nawaz (inset). — AFP

Seeking justice: Supporters of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party celebrating in Islamabad following the Supreme Court’s verdict on Nawaz (inset). — AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top court has ordered that the prime minister be investigated for corruption, in a highly anticipated decision that granted Nawaz Sharif a temporary reprieve as judges said there was insufficient evidence to oust him from power.

Sharif and his children had been accused of graft in an ongoing case that had threatened to topple the prime minister and captivated Pakistan after the Panama Papers leak last year linked the family to offshore business.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a split ruling calling for a joint investigation team of anti-corruption officials along with the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence to probe the claims.

“A thorough investigation is required,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa told the court.

Two of the five judges branded Sharif as “dishonest” and said he should be disqualified.

The controversy erupted with the publication of secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca last year, which documented the offshore dealings of many of the world’s rich and powerful.

Among the global elite implicated were three of Sharif’s four children.

At the heart of the matter is the legitimacy of the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies.

Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party says the wealth was acquired legally through family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.

But lawyers for Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, say the paper trail for the funds is non-existent, and that the onus is on Sharif to prove his relatives did not engage in money-laundering. — AFP

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