The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday ordered further investigations into corruption allegations levelled by the opposition against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The final verdict saw two dissenting notes in the bench, with Justice Khosa and Justice Ahmed ruling against Sharif, saying he should be disqualified, while the other three were in favour of forming a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) for a fresh probe.
The apex court has ordered the JIT to present its report every two weeks before a Supreme Court bench.
The judgement authored by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, which was read out by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.
The case was based on several identical petitions by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan and others about alleged illegal assets of the Sharif family in London.
It erupted with the publication of 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca previous year which documented the offshore dealings of numerous world's rich and powerful.
The Panama Papers refers to a huge cache of leaked documents dating back four decades that are allegedly connected to Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Sharif's party would have remained in power even if the verdict had ordered for the removal of the prime minister.
"We pray that as a result of this verdict Pakistan becomes a nation free of corruption", Haq told reporters on his way into the courthouse on Thursday morning.
"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.
Though owning overseas property is legal in Pakistan, protesters have called into question how Sharif's family acquired the funds to purchase the property.
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. Sharif's family has denied wrongdoing and said the accusations are politically motivated attacks.
"I condemn the Supreme Court's decision and reject it", further adding, "Today democracy and justice were adversely affected".
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.
Drawing a comparison between an investigation launched against gangster Uzair Baloch and the premier, Imran said, "If Nawaz is cleared after JIT's investigation, he can return to the seat".
In May past year, the then Pakistan military chief General Raheel Sharif asked the PM to resolve the Panama controversy, according to Dawn.