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

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

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

Sharif's political opponents doubted the premier's family made assets outside Pakistan through legal means. 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.

He urged opposition parties to accept the decision of the Supreme Court.

The court also ordered Sharif and his two sons - Hasan and Hussain - to appear before the JIT, which would consist of officials from the Federal Investigation Agency, the National Accountability Bureau, the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the Military Intelligence (MI).

Even though today's Panamagate verdict by the Pakistan Supreme Court neither gave a clean chit nor a disqualification to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it essentially places the leader at the mercy of the Army. "We will fully co-operate with the joint investigation team".

The case threatened to throw Pakistan into turmoil ahead of next year's general election.

Khan and former President and co-chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, Asif Zardari quickly rebutted claims that the judgment is a victory for Sharif, saying he had lost all moral ground and he should step down.

Khan's supporters also rallied, gathering earlier outside the Supreme Court.

Khan's party has indicated that it would not launch new street protests if it was disappointed by the judgement.

However, it was pointed out in the judgment that Sharif's sons had maintained that their investment with Al-Thani family of Qatar was the source of funds for Hassan Nawaz Sharif's business.

Zardari told the media, "On what grounds is PML-N celebrating and distributing candies?"

Cyril Almeida, a columnist for the Dawn newspaper, was not surprised by the ruling. In its ruling, it said sufficient evidence was not available to order his removal from office.

For some voters, though, the verdict fell short of an acquittal. Zardari, however, hailed the two senior judges who asked Sharif to resign.

According to the judgement, Sharif, 67, survived as majority three judges supported the setting up of JIT to further probe the allegations while two other judges wanted to disqualify the Prime Minister. "What makes them claim they have been declared honest?"

He had served as the Prime Minister from 1990 to 1993 and from 1997 to 1999.

He and his daughter Mariam claimed a year ago that their London properties were bought through Qatari investments.

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