Pakistan's top court rules prime minister can stay in power


Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has directed the Islamabad administration to deploy Rangers personnel at the SC and its adjoining areas to meet any untoward situation once the long-awaited verdict is out, Radio Pakistan reported.

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday ordered further investigations into corruption allegations levelled by the opposition against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, saying there was insufficient evidence to order his removal from office.

The bench had reserved its verdict on 23 February and said that it will review all angles of the case in detail and then announce a verdict.

The case against the PM stems from documents leaked from the Panama- based Mossack Fonseca law firm, which appear to show that Sharif's daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, and used them to buy properties in London.

"The same five-judge panel will deliberate on this and make a judgment", he said. Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing.

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Interestingly, the verdict of the apex court comes in the same month when Sharif was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2000 and his government was sacked in 1993.

In a statement, the court said it needed more information about the alleged money trail.

"Whatever explanations they gave inside the Supreme Court about their source of income have been exposed as lies", Khan told reporters in the wake of the judgement Thursday. "We will fully cooperate with the joint investigation team".

The highly-anticipated decision threatens to plunge Nawaz Sharif's governing party into turmoil ahead of general elections which is due to be held by next year even as security and the economy improve in the militancy-plagued country.

The opposition used the petitions in an effort to force Sharif, in power since 2013, to resign over tax evasion and concealing foreign investment. With the odor of alleged shoddy financial practices in the air, Sharif's party becomes a flawless target for a hodgepodge of electoral opponents - from secular activists to religious groups - who have sought to portray Sharif and the dynastic political elite as corrupt and insular.

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The case filed by various petitioners Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq and Sheikh Rashid Ahmed sought disqualification of Prime Minister Sharif over his alleged misstatement in his address to the nation on April 5 and his speech before the National Assembly on May 16, 2016.

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.

Both the government and opposition expressed confidence on Wednesday.

The news outlet added that the decision was supported by three court justices, while the two others heading the case voted against.

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