Pakistan court to decide on accusations against PM's family

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Rather than finding for or against Sharif, the panel ordered a new investigation, which will seek testimony from the Prime Minister and his sons.

Late previous year, the Supreme Court made a decision to investigate Sharif's offshore affiliations, after Opposition Leader Imran Khan threatened major protests. The Pakistan Army, which had successfully ousted him on October 12, 1999, under the command of General Pervez Musharraf after the Kargil war with India, will probe whether Sharif and his family is guilty of amassing illegal wealth overseas. According to Reuters, protesters nearby were chanting "Go Nawaz, Go Nawaz", urging the PM to gracefully exit his political office.

In a 3-2 decision, the majority on the court found there was not enough evidence of corruption or financial crimes to remove Sharif from office over claims that he and his family had hidden property and assets through offshore tax havens.

The controversy is the latest to hit Sharif, an industrialist serving his third term as prime minister after the first two terms were interrupted by interventions from the country's powerful military.

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The controversy erupted with the publication of the so-called Panama Papers a year ago, 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which documented the offshore dealings of numerous world's rich and powerful.

As per the Supreme Court order, a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) will be formed in a week and Sharif and his sons will have to appear before it.

Nawaz's staunch political opponent Imran Khan was present in the court when the verdict was announced.

Maryam tweeted a photo of Sharif, his family and PML-N leaders celebrating the verdict with smiles and embraces.

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"I demand resignation of PM till completion of JIT investigation", he said adding that it was not possible that a free and transparent investigation was carried out when the accused Nawaz Sharif was holding the premiership.

"It will be implemented in all its spirit", Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said immediately after the verdict.

The other agencies in the JIT include the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), and the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

"If Nawaz is cleared after JIT's investigation, he can return to the seat", he said.

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The worst April in history of the country was April 4, 1979 when former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged for criminal conspiracy to kill a leading politician. The opposition accuses Sharif of failing to explain the source of money in offshore companies owned by his children and of lying to parliament.

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