Panama Papers: court rejects call to oust Pakistani PM over corruption claims

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The 3-2 decision called for the formation of a joint investigation team to examine the money trail within two months, and the two dissenting judges recommended Sharif's disqualification.

The Supreme Court had widely been expected to announce punitive measures against Sharif's family members or even the prime minister himself, which would have put him under significant pressure.

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.

The case against Sharif emerged a year ago after the Panama Papers leak linked his children to offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands in relation to the purchase of upmarket property in London.

Sharif was first accused of corruption after three of his children were linked to offshore accounts uncovered by the 2015 Panama Papers leak.

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In April 2016, Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper published materials it claimed came from the Mossack Fonseca company, exposing the alleged involvement of a number of world leaders, like Sharif, as well as influential figures and their circles in tax havens schemes. Simply, Prime Minister Sharif has got minor relief and major headache from this verdict.

"He should resign from his position on moral grounds", said Pervaz Ahmad, an Islamabad resident.

He said if Sharif is not ready to step down permanently, he should step aside for 60 days when JIT would probe the money laundering allegations, as ordered by the court.

"The prime minister has been proven guilty by two judges".

The Supreme Court ruled there was insufficient evidence to order Sharif's removal and ordered further investigations. This simply means the Prime Minister will be on the mercy of the ISI and the Pakistan Army.

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Farogh Naseem, a Supreme Court lawyer and sitting senator, said Sharif could breathe easy, for now.

Maryam tweeted a photo of Sharif, his family and PML-N leaders celebrating the verdict with smiles and embraces. At least eight offshore companies were found to have links to the Sharif family.

Various parties, including the state bank, the Inter-Services Intelligence and the military intelligence will form part of the investigation team.

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

"We believe that if Pakistan is not safe in the hands of Nawaz Sharif, it is also not safe in the hands of Imran Khan", the former president, whose own party is gunning for a victory in the next election, said. The JIT must report its progress to the court on a weekly basis.

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